Seventy-six-year-old Phyllis McLane said it was important for her to get the coronavirus vaccine when she could.
"To help me survive," she said.
McLane got her first dose already and is scheduled to receive her second in two weeks, but because there is no vaccination site in Chicopee, she had to go to Holyoke.
"It would make it a lot easier if I didn't have to travel," McLane said.
Adding to the stress, her experience at the vaccine site took longer because her oxygen levels were low.
"Oh yeah because I have to take the oxygen with me, because I can't breathe without it."
The lack of a vaccination site in Chicopee isn't just frustrating for residents like McLane.
"I can tell you my staff were at their wits end," said Chicopee Mayor John Vieau.
Vieau said the city has finalized their plans to have a regional site at the Castle of Knights on Memorial Drive, they are just awaiting doses, along with approval from the state.
"Initially we were going to go small and have a clinic at the Council of Aging. We were directed and told by the Department of Public Health to go larger to be able to meet the capacity of 750 people per day, five days a week," said Lisa Sanders, health director for the city. "We are able to do that."
The state releases new appointments at mass vaccination sites every week. Last week, the city said they weren't able to schedule one for any of the seniors on their list, noting they called in at 7 a.m. and already tens of thousands of people were ahead of them in the queue.
"From day one, the mission and what Chicopee's goal was, was to save lives. To help those most vulnerable, our senior population. And to not be able to get them an appointment, not get them what they're asking for, is heartbreaking," said Vieau.
Forty EMTs have volunteered to take a training on Friday on how to administer the vaccine, so if and when the state approves the regional site, Chicopee is ready to go.
"We also have some volunteers from AIC nursing staff, along with the Sheriff's Department in order to accomplish the staffing we need at the facility," said Chicopee Fire Chief Dan Stamborski.
It may be too late for people like McLane to get vaccinated closer to home, but she and city leaders remain hopeful something will change soon.
"I think it would be a lot better so you don't have to go out and travel, and it would be easier on the elderly," said McLane.
"We can create all the capacity in the world, but without a dose, no one gets a vaccine," said Vieau.
Additional vaccines coming following Johnson & Johnson's approval should help. The city of Chicopee hopes it will be able to get a site going soon to get vaccines to residents who were unable to make appointments.