Encore Boston Harbor to Become a COVID Vaccination Site

Encore Boston Harbor will now not only feature slots, but also shots.

The resort casino on Lower Broadway was confirmed on Monday to be a new mass vaccination site for the state, locating a COVID-19 vaccination program, in collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) and the City of Everett, at an empty ballroom to serve employees of Encore and the general public.

As an added convenience for the public, the Encore runner shuttle can be used from most areas of Everett to get free transportation to and from the casino vaccination program, noted Mayor Carlo DeMaria.

The vaccination center is located in Encore Boston Harbor’s Picasso Ballroom near the Resort South elevators with direct access to the self-parking garage, where parking is complimentary for all visitors. The site will offer approximately 300 shots per day, which will ramp up to around 700 per day as the program progresses.

The matter has been discussed quietly for a few weeks now, but was made official during the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meeting Monday morning.

The casino kicked off the effort Tuesday at the resort.

“I do understand Encore has been designated a vaccination site starting (Tuesday) where vaccines will be available to the public and to their employees as well,” said Loretta Lillios, of the MGC.

Said MGC Chair Kathy Judd-Stein, “One development we just learned about was the designation of Encore as a vaccination site, which shows the great partnership with not only its host community of Everett, but for the entire Commonwealth…I think it will help employees but it is open to the public. Particularly for the surrounding communities, it will be available and hopefully they can take advantage of that access. That’s good news.”

Encore President Brian Gullbrants said it was a chance to aid in the state’s health and economic recovery.

“We want to help residents of Everett and our surrounding communities receive the vaccine as quickly and conveniently as possible,” said Gullbrants. “We are looking forward to hosting this vaccination center in partnership with the City of Everett and Cambridge Health Alliance. Together we hope to aid in our state’s health and economic recovery.”

In early April, spokesperson Rose Salisbury told the Independent they were happy to be considered and hoped the effort would lead to becoming a designated site.

“We are pleased to be considered for a potential regional vaccination site and we look forward to helping to serve our communities should this come to fruition,” she said on April 6.

Between then and now, there have been a number of things to come under consideration, protocols to follow and other matters to address. Finally, this week, the casino was cleared to open for vaccinations.

“The City of Everett has been and continues to be one of the hardest hit communities by the COVID19 pandemic,” said Mayor DeMaria. “Through our collaboration with Encore Boston Harbor and Cambridge Health Alliance, the residents of Everett will have an additional location to be vaccinated right here in Everett. Those struggling with transportation to and from vaccine sites will have the option of using the Encore shuttle which is an added convenience to this site. I’m grateful for Encore for opening up their space and to CHA for providing these much needed services.”

Said Assaad Sayah, MD, CEO of Cambridge Health Alliance, “Cambridge Health Alliance serves many of the communities that have been hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping local residents stay healthy is our priority, and we are grateful for the support from the City of Everett and Encore Boston Harbor to mobilize vaccination efforts in our region.”

Councilor Michael McLaughlin, who has invested a great deal of time helping the City’s vaccination efforts, said he supports the Encore site in his ward of the city.

“I strongly believe it’s time that the Governor increases the occupancy limits and allows Encore to operate in a safe manner as they have for several months now and start to rebuild their business while they also serve a great public good in offering space for a vaccination site in Everett,” he said.

To make an appointment, individuals should call Cambridge Health Alliance’s COVID-19 vaccination hotline at (617) 665-2100.  Appointments are required and walk-ins will not be accepted.

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