DENVER (CBS4) – The state’s largest mass vaccination event to date kicked off Saturday in the parking lots north of Coors Field. The drive thru event, which follows a trial run last weekend, is being put on through a partnership between UCHealth, the Colorado Rockies and state, as well as the City and County of Denver.
“This can save us from the pandemic,” said Dr. Richard Zane, Chief of Emergency Medicine with UCHealth.READ MORE: Kit Carson Peak Climber Madeline Baharlou-Quivey's Body Retrieved By Rescue Crews, Helicopter
More than 440,000 people in Colorado have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is currently in the 1B phase of its vaccination plan, which includes older Coloradans and remaining health care workers.
This weekend, 10,000 people will receive their first shot at the drive thru event outside of Coors Field. 5,000 people were randomly selected to schedule appointments for Saturday, and another 5,000 are scheduled to come Sunday.
Ahead of the event, UCHealth made it clear there would be no walk-ups allowed. Anyone who is 70 years and older and interested was instructed to sign up on the UCHealth website or call the UCHealth hotline for an appointment.
“We came early just in case, but it’s fast,” said Joy Travis, who drove to the event from Evergreen. “Everybody knows what they’re doing, and they’re doing it well.”
For patients like Travis, the process was as easy as drive up, sign in, get your shot, and then wait for 15 minutes in case of any side effects. It was all made seamless by dozens of volunteers who offered everything from directions to translation.
“They’re like, ‘oh my gosh, someone who looks like me and understands me can help me,’” said Lizeth Lubelski, a Spanish medical interpreter.
According to Zane, UCHealth is currently using three different strategies to administer the vaccine, which include using fixed clinics, pop up clinics in specific neighborhoods, and drive thru events.READ MORE: Latino Community Across Colorado Prepares To Celebrate Día De Los Muertos
“It’s a remarkable achievement for the state of Colorado,” Zane said. “When we get more vaccines, this will allow us to vaccinate thousands and thousands of people in a very short period of time.”
On Saturday, Gov. Jared Polis came to see the drive thru event for himself, as Colorado races to vaccinate anyone older than 70 who wants it.
“You’ll be up in the next week or two if you’re over 70,” Polis said. “Starting Feb. 8, we’ll be through most of the 70 and up, and that’s why we’ll be going to the ages 65 to 69.”
For Jeanette Eagan, this vaccination means freedom from isolation. For Carol Cartwright and her family, the chance to get the shot comes with a sense of safety.
“I think it’s going to reduce everybody’s anxiety a lot to just feel like we have a little bit more protection,” said Jacquie Cartwright, Carol’s daughter.
According to UCHealth, all patients who get their shot this weekend already have an appointment scheduled to get their second dose at another drive thru clinic three weeks from now.MORE NEWS: 'Live Like Her': Sally Strelecki Taken Off Life Support After Bullet From Neighboring Apartment Kills Her
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.