By Jennifer McRae

PUEBLO, Colo. (CBS4)– FEMA will open a COVID vaccine clinic in Pueblo County next week. It’s part of a push to accelerate coronavirus vaccinations in Pueblo and rural communities in Southern Colorado.

The vaccine site at the Colorado State Fairgrounds will transition to a FEMA Pilot Site next week as part of the joint effort between FEMA and the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Right now, the plan is to keep the vaccination site open for 8 weeks.

(Photo by ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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The transition to a FEMA site will increase capacity at both the drive-through site and mobile vaccination locations. Vaccinations are expected to increase from approximately 1,750 vaccines per day up to 3,000 vaccines per day.

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Mobile units will expand distribution efforts to rural and agricultural communities, including Alamosa, Bent, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties.

(credit: CBS)

“Our partnership with the Pueblo community, and leaders like Sheriff Kirk Taylor, Public Health Director Randy Evetts and Mayor Nick Gradisar, has been essential as we have worked to vaccinate folks at our State Community Vaccination site, and now as we make this important transition, we have an opportunity to get even more vaccines into arms, and help our state build back stronger. This partnership with FEMA is going to help more Coloradans get the protection they need even faster,” said Gov. Jared Polis in a statement. “And this isn’t only about quantity, but also equity. With this transition, we’ll be able to increase supply for the site, and reach more folks in many of our rural and agricultural communities, making it quick, easy, and convenient for them to get vaccinated. Getting the vaccine isn’t just about protecting yourself, but your loved ones and your community, so make sure to schedule your appointment as soon as you’re able.”

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Southern Colorado communities have been especially hit hard with less access to health services and the vaccine compared to more urban communities across the state. About 20% of Pueblo County residents live below the poverty line.

Jennifer McRae