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Inside Jefferson County’s mass vaccination site in Arvada

“A site like this is important because we're able to meet the community where they're at."

DENVER, Colorado — While the mass vaccination site at Coors Field is getting much of the attention right now ahead of 10,000 doses being administered this weekend, there are community sites putting up big numbers too.

Jefferson County can vaccinate about 500 first responders and medical workers a day, three times a week, at the Arvada training center. Decades of public health preparedness has culminated at the site.

“A site like this is important because we're able to meet the community where they're at. They're able to show up, stay in their vehicles and stay safe while in a pandemic,” said Christine Billings, Jefferson County's head of pandemic response. “If there's an anthrax attack, we have to be able to dispense medications within 48 hours. We plan train and exercise for that metric.”

Intense and complicated planning has led to a relatively easy, seamless process for those allowed to get the vaccine. They just pull up and turn to the right radio station for instructions, eliminating the need for staff repeating themselves all day.

Sanitized plastic clipboards are given to people in their cars, allowing them to fill out paperwork before getting to the front of the line. The bay doors at the fire training center then open allowing six drivers in at a time for a shot. They drive past two high-tech coolers, storing the vaccines.

Credit: Ryan Haarer

“The temperature's constantly being monitored on these units,” said Billings of the specialized coolers storing the sensitive vaccines. “Should something happen, we have an alarm that lets us know something could be amidst with the vaccine.”

A few minutes and one shot later, drivers roll out to a parking lot, where EMS workers monitor people for allergic reactions for 15 minutes. Simple, thanks to not so simple work over the years, helping us all see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I am a cancer survivor. And you always ask the questions, why am I still here, what am I doing? And I honestly feel I am here to help the community,” said Billings. “And to see the looks on the people’s faces that this vaccine is finally giving a ray of hope to what is a very long road.”