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FEMA offers walk-up COVID-19 vaccinations in Pueblo

Federal officials will take over the mass vaccination site at the Colorado State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.

PUEBLO, Colo. — People won't need an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the Colorado State Fairgrounds – at least for now.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will take control of the mass vaccination site in Pueblo on Wednesday. Centura Health has been operating the site since it first opened in April.

The transition will create Colorado's first and only FEMA Pilot Community Vaccination Site. It's an eight-week effort to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations in Pueblo and rural communities in southern Colorado.

"Before word of mouth spreads, before people know where to get appointments, we see a lot of appointments available when they first launch," Julie Brooks, a spokesperson for FEMA said.

Federal officials said they have enough openings to offer walk-up vaccinations. While FEMA still encourages scheduling in advance, people can show up at the state fairgrounds and be scheduled for a walk-up appointment on the spot. 

FEMA has 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to offer daily. The mass vaccination site will be open seven days a week, beginning at 7 a.m.

"We bring in a separate vaccine allocation, supplies, personnel and are able to increase the amount of vaccines being offered within a community," Brooks said. "In this situation, being able to offer additional days and hours to supplement what Centura had already been doing here in Pueblo."

Brooks said there is little to no chance people will be turned away. She explained that could change if the site starts to get fully booked. If people arrive and there are no more doses for the day, staff on site can help schedule an appointment for the following day.

The community vaccination site will offer drive-through and mobile vaccination locations. The goal is to expand vaccine access to agricultural communities with less access to health services. That includes Alamosa, Bent, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, Rio Grande and Saguache counties, among others.

"This partnership with FEMA is going to help more Coloradans get the protection they need even faster,” said Governor Jared Polis. “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.” 

Vaccination appointments can be scheduled through Centura Health at http://www.centura.org/vaccine.