BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is preparing to open its first mass vaccination site this week at Gillette Stadium as the state ramps up efforts to get shots into arms and help stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The site will open Thursday by first administering vaccinations into staff members, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday at a press conference.
Starting Monday, the site will begin giving shots to first responders. At first the site will have the capacity to administer up to 300 doses a day.
Baker said that capacity will expand over time to up to 5,000 doses a day or more, eventually extending to the general population.
"These vaccines are safe and effective," Baker said.
On Monday, the state began administering vaccine doses to first responders — including police, firefighters and EMTs.
Baker said he wanted to thank those first responders who are stepping up to get vaccinated.
"Obviously getting the vaccine protects not only you, but also your family and all the folks you deal with and come in contact with in your community from COVID," Baker said.
Baker said that eligible vaccine recipients will be able to schedule appointments on the state's COVID-19 vaccine website.
The next phase of the vaccine plan will focus on congregate care facilities, Baker said.
Vaccines are not expected to be available to the general public until April.
"The big hope on the horizon is the arrival of more vaccine," Baker said. "In the meantime everybody's still got to do their part to stop the spread of the virus in the months ahead."