BRISTOL -- The covid-19 vaccination site at ESPN, which opened to the public on Monday, administered about 600 doses on its first day of operation, and the hope is that that number could be doubled in a few weeks as people return to receive their second shot.
“It’s booked solid,” Chris Boyle, Bristol Health spokesperson, said of the first few days the clinic will be open.
The drive-thru clinic, located at ESPN’s North Campus, at 383 Middle St., is part of a partnership between the sports media conglomerate, Bristol Health and the Bristol-Burlington Health District. It is by appointment only, and is staffed with workers and volunteers from Bristol Health, the BBHD and the Medical Reserve Corps.
“Everything has been going smoothly,” said Albert Peguero, manager of emergency preparedness at Bristol Health.
Peguero said the clinic is equipped to administer about 1,000 doses of the covid-19 vaccine each day. But when people begin returning to the site in a few weeks, when both first and second doses will be given out simultaneously, officials are hoping to bump that number up to about 1,200 after handling about 600 appointments on Monday. That way, 600 people could receive their second dose without having to reduce the number of first dose recipients.
“That’s the hope,” Peguero said.
The courier runs between Bristol Health and the ESPN site on Monday went “perfect,” Peguero added. The vaccines are prepared at Bristol Hospital before being transported in large coolers to the site.
Adam Nemeroff received his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday after saying he could not find an appointment anywhere else in the state. He drove about 40 minutes to get to Bristol and said the process in the drive-thru clinic was overall a pleasant experience. He booked his appointment by calling the state’s hotline.
“For the most part, so far the drive-thru aspect has been good,” Nemeroff said.
Mike Heimbach, vice president of security, facilities and safety at ESPN, said coordinating the clinic, like anything else, had its challenges, but everyone from the various groups involved were able to come together and make it work seamlessly.
“There was no playbook for the pandemic,” Heimbach said.
Though ESPN had done vaccine clinics in the past, this is the largest one to date.
“We’re just super excited to be a little part of getting our community back,” Heimbach said.
Heimbach also said bad weather could make the drive-thru aspect of the clinic undoable on some days, but officials have cordoned off an area that, prior to the pandemic, served as a large cafeteria in ESPN’s North Campus where social distancing can be practiced while vaccines are administered indoors. ESPN has set up markers spaced apart by 6 feet where individuals can wait in line, and they also brought in portable lights where the vaccines will be given to provide the clinical team the lighting they need.
“We don’t want to cancel any clinics,” Heimbach said. “We’ll pull an audible.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.