By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – Preparations are underway for this weekend’s mass vaccination drive thru event outside Coors Field, which will be the largest vaccination clinic yet in Colorado.

The event comes after a smaller, trial run this past Sunday, where 1,000 people got their first shots. It was put on through a partnership between UCHealth, the Colorado Rockies, the state, and the City and County of Denver.

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“We felt the pilot went extremely well,” said Dr. Richard Zane, Chief innovation officer for UCHealth.

(credit: CBS)

The event planned for this weekend will be a scaled-up version of the pilot event. UCHealth officials say the plan is to administer 5,000 vaccines each day, totaling 10,000 over the weekend.

“We believe we probably could vaccinate 8,000 people in one day, 16,000 in a weekend, but the supply of vaccine is the single biggest challenge,” Zane said.

According to Zane, the biggest takeaway from Sunday is that appointments work. For the whole week preceding the event, UCHealth made it clear there would be no walk-ups or ride-alongs allowed. Anyone who was 70 and older and interested in taking part in the event, was instructed to sign up on the UCHealth website or call the UCHealth hotline for an appointment, and the same applies this week.

“It’s incredibly important that we stick to the philosophy of having appointments and specific timed appointments,” Zane said. “This would not work with a walk-in, first-come first-serve, as we’ve seen in other states where it’s really been bedlam.”

While speaking with reporters Wednesday, Zane said 5,000 people were already registered for Saturday, but about half of the Sunday appointments were still open. UCHealth is already in the process of sending invites to randomly selected and eligible Coloradans.

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According to Zane, about 300,000 people 70 and older have registered with the health care system to get a vaccine, 80,000 of whom are not current patients. UCHealth is currently using three modes to administer the vaccine: fixed clinics, pop up clinics in specific neighborhoods, and drive thru events.

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“When you register with us and you receive an invitation, you receive an invitation at any one of our clinics that’s open during that time period based on the supply of vaccine,” Zane said.

While this weekend’s event is taking place in Denver, anyone in the state of Colorado can register with UCHealth, and if selected in the appointment lottery, drive to Coors Field to get vaccinated. Zane said organizers are also working with the city and state to make sure people from underserved communities have equal opportunities to take part.

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“We have translation services in multiple languages available, and we have targeted a wide variety of demographics and specifically certain zip codes within the Denver metro area that the state of Colorado and city of Denver asked us to target,” Zane said.

(credit: CBS)

Moving forward, Zane said the state is working with other health care companies to bring similar, large scale events to different regions.

“One of our obligations to the state of Colorado is to deliver a playbook, essentially.”

For UCHealth, which already vaccinates thousands every day, drive thru events will be yet another important tool in helping the state meet its vaccination goals, which include having 70% of Coloradans over 70 vaccinated by the end of February.

“The faster and broader we vaccinate, the faster we get back to normal,” Zane said.

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Anyone interested in joining the appointment lottery for next weekend’s vaccination event can sign up on the UCHealth website. Anyone who doesn’t have access to a computer or smartphone may call UCHealth’s vaccine hotline at 720-462-2255.

Conor McCue