State to take over Pueblo COVID vaccine clinic, moving operations to state fairgrounds

Heather Willard
The Pueblo Chieftain

The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment has announced the opening of a state-run regional vaccination clinic at the Colorado State Fairgrounds, to open on March 22.

The fairgrounds have been host to the county's COVID testing site. The testing site will move to the Pueblo Mall beginning Monday.

This also comes in conjunction with a new phase of vaccinations to be open for those who are age 50 or older, are in one of several categories of frontline essential workers, or are age 16-49 with at least one high-risk condition.

Staffers of the community vaccine clinic and the health department have focused on vaccinating the whole community through phases for several months, and aim to get those in the current eligible phase vaccinated as soon as possible. To this end, the Pueblo Emergency Operations Center leaders have opted to let the state take over the Pueblo Vaccine Clinic.

“We continue to work hard to ensure that all our residents who are eligible and who want the vaccine can get it in a timely manner,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor. “We, along with all of our partner first responder agencies and volunteers are committed to our mission of putting vaccines into the arms of our residents as quickly as possible.”

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A vaccination fact sheet has been produced by the state of Colorado and Centura Health, which has been contracted to perform vaccinations, at bit.ly/SouthRegionVax. This link will also take individuals through registering for their vaccination appointment at all Southeastern Colorado vaccine sites. 

Eligible vaccine recipients can also call 1-866-414-1562 or 720-263-5737 to register.

Those seeking vaccines will need to go to the fairgrounds entrance at  2701 W. Mesa Ave. to receive their shots.

Those seeking COVID-19 testing will need to go to the former Sears garage at the Pueblo Mall, located at 3201 Dillon Drive.

Those who already received a first dose through the Pueblo clinic will be contacted by Centura Health to schedule a second dose. The previous scheduling methods through the Pueblo Health Department will be discontinued, and only Centura's registration system will be utilized in the future.

Organizers of the mass vaccination clinic have announced a goal of administering 3,000 second-dose vaccines this week, and another 1,000 of first-dose vaccines for those in the current phase that the state has authorized which is 1B.3, and is for individuals 60 and older, those 16-59 with two or more high-risk conditions and grocery and agriculture workers. 

However, the state-run clinic will allow for a higher volume of vaccinations.

Sheriff Taylor stated at a press conference held Friday that the state-run clinic would be modeled after Pueblo County's vaccination clinic.

Once established, the mass vaccination site will allow for 6,000 doses to be administered a day for all who are eligible for the vaccination phase, no matter their address. The state has opted to contract with Centura Health for the vaccination clinic, and thus will introduce a new way of signing up individuals. Other mass vaccination sites through the state will be located in Colorado Springs, Mesa County, Adams County, Larimer County and Denver County.

Phase 2 will be the general public, but no date has been announced for that phase.

“I am encouraged that the governor is opening vaccination phases sooner than initially scheduled,” said Randy Evetts, public health director for the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment, in a press release. “As Pueblo moves forward with vaccinating this next phase of individuals, we are providing vaccine to more of our residents who want the protection.”

More home COVID tests will be available for restaurant and food service workers in Colorado

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced in conjunction with the expanded vaccination eligibility, that it would issue further Binax at-home rapid testing kits. Originally, CDPHE sent the test kits to pre-K-12 teachers, early childhood educators and student-facing staff of Colorado's public schools. The program was expanded as of March 16 to include food service employees around the state.

Food service employees can enroll in the program by filling out a Google Form which verifies their employer and their email address. Once applicants are approved, they will receive an email from CDPHE detailing how they can order their own free testing kit, delivered directly to their homes via Amazon.

From there, individuals will schedule a telehealth appointment for instruction on how to administer the test via the NAVICA App. Test kits contain six tests, which recipients can use to test themselves every five days. Users are eligible to order their next Binax At-Home testing kit 20 days after their previous order.

The kits are free to the user, as CDPHE has partnered with Amazon and eMed on the program. More information can be found on the state website, covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-testing-at-home.

Groups that are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine through phase 1B.3 

  • Highest risk health care workers – People who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period
  • Long-term care facility staff and residents
  • 65 years old and older, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions
  • Health care workers – home health, hospice, pharmacy, dental, etc. and EMS
  • First responders
  • Pre-K through 12th grade educators and school safety/support staff
  • Licensed childcare workers
  • Select members of the judicial and executive branches of government
  • People age 60-and-older
  • Frontline essential workers in grocery and agriculture
  • Pueblo 16-59 with two or more high-risk conditions

As of March 12, there have been 36,100 first doses and 22,140 second doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Over 21,000 first doses and 14,000 second doses have been administered at the community-based mass vaccination clinic site at the Pueblo Mall.

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Chieftain reporter Heather Willard can be reached via email at hwillard@chieftain.com or on Twitter: @HeatherDWrites.