UCHealth vaccinates 1,000 seniors at Coors Field, plans for 10,000 next weekend

A bevy of gray-haired drivers navigated through orange traffic cones, past red signs and through a white tent Sunday to receive COVID-19 vaccinations without ever leaving their cars.

About 1,000 people over the age of 70 received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in a parking lot outside Coors Field as part of a UCHealth drive-thru event that served as a dry run before a much bigger vaccination effort planned for next weekend.

Sunday’s vaccinations were meant to test the set up and allow UCHealth to work out any kinks before next weekend, when organizers hope to vaccinate as many as 10,000 people at the drive-thru site in two days. The vaccine is given out only to people with appointments; any others who show up are turned away.

The trial run went smoothly Sunday — traffic flowed steadily to 18 individual tents where drivers were vaccinated. After the first hour, UCHealth added some additional directions for drivers and enlisted another flag waver to point people in the right direction.

After patients were vaccinated, they were required to wait in another parking lot for about 15 minutes to ensure they did not experience any negative reactions. Signs there told drivers to honk their horns or put on their flashers if they began to feel sick. Roving medical observers monitored that lot.

Robb Pickard, 70, snapped a selfie as he received the vaccine Sunday, less than 10 minutes after he’d pulled into the line. The process was smooth and easy, he said.

“Hopefully it will help me and others return to a bit of normal,” he said.

Richard Zane, chief of emergency medicine at UCHealth, said mass vaccinations like the one planned for next weekend are one of three ways health care providers can administer vaccines. The shots can also be given from fixed clinics, like doctors’ offices, or from mobile clinics, which can travel to harder-to-reach communities.

“The sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can put this in our rearview mirror,” he said. UCHealth currently has the capacity to do about 30,000 vaccinations a week, spokesman Dan Weaver said, but is actually giving about half that number because of the limited supply of the vaccine.

The state of Colorado has committed 10,000 doses for next weekend’s event, Zane said. The doses distributed Sunday were stored under guard in special freezers at Coors Field until they were injected into patients.

Everyone being vaccinated must have an appointment ahead of time, and anyone can sign up to be vaccinated through UCHealth, either through its website or by calling 720-462-2255 — those who qualify to be vaccinated, like people who are older than 70, will then be notified when an appointment is available.

Sandra Haselden, 73, hopes being vaccinated will give her a bit more freedom to navigate the world this year. She has an immune deficiency disease, and has stayed home throughout the pandemic, not even venturing out to buy groceries.

“It’s been a very boring and restrictive life,” she said. “It’s hard not to get down in the dumps.”

Once she receives her second dose of vaccine — in about three weeks — she is looking forward to running errands and getting out of the house.

“I want this crud to go away, so if it takes a needle in the arm, it’s worth it,” she said.

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