UCHealth planning to vaccinate 10,000 people in their cars at Coors Field next weekend

UCHealth is planning to stage a drive-thru mass-vaccination event in Coors Field’s parking lots at the end of January that would see a projected 10,000 people 70 or older inoculated against COVID-19 over two days, officials with the health system said Friday.

Before finalizing the Jan. 30-31 event in Denver — which would be held in conjunction with city and state officials and the Colorado Rockies — UCHealth will conduct a dry run at the same site on Sunday, with plans to vaccinate 1,000 older Coloradans who have appointments.

“No walk-ins will be vaccinated on these days,” said Dan Weaver, vice president of communications for UCHealth. “In fact, if a car pulls in with multiple people inside, we’ll only be able to vaccinate the one person with an appointment.”

Coloradans seeking COVID-19 vaccines from UCHealth can sign up for appointments via the provider’s website or by calling 720-462-2255; those who qualify under the state’s current vaccination stage — such as people 70 and older — will be notified when appointments are available, whether at the drive-thru site or elsewhere.

The Sunday pilot event will begin slowly, with a small number of cars brought through Coors Field’s parking lots between 8 and 9 a.m., before crews take a break to “figure out what works, what needs to be adjusted,” Weaver said. Then at 10 a.m., a larger number of cars — all people with appointments — will be let through, with an anticipated 1,000 people 70 and older being vaccinated by noon.

After people are vaccinated, there’s a required 15-minute observation period to watch for any negative reactions to the injections, so vehicles will be directed to another parking lot, Weaver said. There, observers and EMS crews will be walking around monitoring those who’ve just received their shots.

“We’re certainly optimistic that if this weekend’s pilot goes well, we’ll be able to hold the two-day vaccination drive-thru clinic next weekend,” Weaver said.

Staff from other health care providers will be on hand, too, to observe, with the notion that UCHealth’s two-day event can be used as a blueprint to stage other drive-thru vaccination clinics around the state, Weaver said. The state will provide UCHealth with additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines so the health system can inoculate up to 10,000 people next weekend, he noted.

UCHealth’s plans come as the Biden administration — looking to speed up vaccine distribution — released a plan that would have the Federal Emergency Management Agency run up to 100 mass vaccination clinics across the nation, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Gov. Jared Polis previously has shied away from the sort of large-scale vaccination clinics being staged in other states, saying he believes smaller sites are just as efficient. However, on Friday he said he has “not ruled out sites of any size.”

“Every site has a role,” Polis said during a news briefing. “Whether it’s a Coors Field site administered by UCHealth, whether it’s a FEMA site. We’re happy to work with all partners on these kinds of sites.”

But, he said, one problem with mass-vaccination sites is that there is still very limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

“If you only have so much vaccine, I do think it’s very important to get it out into the community across our entire state rather than all at one site,” Polis said. “That being said, in the population centers, if you have critical mass, you can certainly have a medium-scale site or even a larger-scale site as part of that overall model.”

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