The Big E approved as regional COVID vaccination site

WEST SPRINGFIELD – “I’m happy and it’s about time,” said Mayor Donald F. Humson Jr. upon hearing that The Big E will host a regional COVID-19 vaccination site.

State Rep. Kelly Pease said Friday afternoon he was notified by Gov. Charlie D. Baker’s Western Mass. Office Director Jose Delgado that the site was approved. Pease agreed it should have been approved sooner, but was also happy to have the site approved.

“I think residents will be pleased,” Pease said. “Many residents have been saying The Big E is a great site and much closer than the Eastfield Mall.”

Until today, The Eastfield Mall in Springfield was the closet state vaccination site to the greater Westfield area. Humason said “it’s the typical thing I faced as a legislator — they think western Mass. is Worcester. I’m glad we have this option, I just wish it had happened sooner.”

Last week, Westfield CVS pharmacies began administering vaccines after Humason, State Sen. John C. Velis and Pease lobbied to get more vaccines in the city.

Pease said Friday that the details of the site were not yet clear, but he believes the site will be up and running quickly.

“I think [West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt] had the plans in place and will be set to go quickly,” Pease said. “Now, it’s about calling up volunteers – and getting the vaccine.”

Humason applauded Reichelt, Velis and Pease, as well as Agawam Mayor William Sapelli, for the coordinated effort.

“I think that outside of having a vaccination site in Westfield proper, The Big E is a great location,” said Humason. “Everyone around here knows where it is and it’s much closer for residents of Westfield and the Hilltowns.”

Southwick officials agreed several weeks ago to join West Springfield, Westfield and Agawam in urging Baker to approve a Big E site.

Southwick Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin reacted enthusiastically to the announcement.

“Excellent news,” he said. “Southwick will be supportive with our resources, and this is a great location for our residents compared to travelling to East Springfield.”

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