El Paso County prepares for drive-up clinic to give 5,000 COVID-19 vaccinations

COVID-19 Vaccine

COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s not the most efficient approach, but Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers says that adding a mass COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru will give the county more flexibility in administering vaccinations to those eligible.

It comes as the average daily number of vaccinations has increased every week, with the latest 7-day average showing 2,654 vaccinations administered each day.

“It’s really more efficient to have your providers cranking it out every day than it is to have a mass vaccination site on the weekend, but we’re going to do what we need to do to get the greatest penetration of our population,” Suthers said.

500 people were vaccinated at the drive-up site located in the World Arena parking lot in the southern part of the city. Most of those people were educators, and it was a run-through of sorts to prepare for the 5,000 people who have an appointment for the site over the chilly weekend.

Centura Health operates the site, and the hospital system plans to expand these kinds of events to different areas of the city in the future, like the southeast part of town.

This weekend’s patients have already been scheduled and will mostly consist of people over 70.

Having a drive-up clinic organized will also give the region the ability to scale up once more vaccinations are produced and distributed.

“Our goal is to get as many vaccines out in as short of period of time,” said Dr. Robin Johnson, the Medical Director for El Paso County Public Health, “It allows us, particularly as we are getting an influx of greater numbers, to get them out efficiently.”

Up to this point, most vaccinations have been given out in clinical settings; UCHealth is averaging more than 1,700 doses given per day out of its clinic off of Pikes Peak Avenue. That site has gone from five vaccination stations to 14 because of the increasing supply of the vaccine.

El Paso County received 25,000 vaccine doses this week, up from 9,000 that had been coming in. The increase comes after a tiff between state and county leaders in the amount of vaccine El Paso County was receiving.

Suthers says El Paso County has not gotten over 12-percent of vaccine doses that would be in proportion with the county’s population. After airing those grievances, Governor Jared Polis’ office said it was because thousands of vaccines were sitting on shelves and not being administered.

The Governor’s analysis was correct on paper. On a Thursday glance of the numbers, there were 1,100 vaccines on shelves at UCHealth at the time, and another Matthews View Medical Group had 1,800 in storage. But Suthers says those doses were scheduled to go right out the door because it’s less than one day’s worth of doses for UCHealth, and Matthews View was holding the doses to administer them in a mass-vaccination clinic over the weekend.

Suthers was happy to have worked out the issue with Polis.

“I am very pleased he’s made a commitment to make up for the shortage that El Paso County has had,” Suthers expressed.

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