Mass COVID Vaccination Site At Colorado State Fairgrounds In Pueblo To Close In June

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Shanna Lewis for KRCC
Fort Carson soldiers verify information from people waiting in their cars for vaccinations at the Colorado State Fairgrounds Community Vaccination Site in Pueblo on April 23, 2021.

The federal mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo wraps up June 14 after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began operation in mid-April. So far, FEMA has vaccinated more than 21,000 people at the location.

FEMA spokesperson Julie Brooks said the site has "maintained a steady flow of people" since opening. In May, the site was vaccinating below the 3,000-a-day capacity, with daily variations from 200 to 1,500.

Brooks said the real success of the site has been in the equity outreach to the community.

"The reason the pilot site was in Pueblo had to do with reaching underserved areas of the community," said Brooks. "It wasn't going to be, oh, let's try something else if the site's not successful. It was always going to be in addition to."

That community outreach looked like partnering with schools in the district to host vaccine clinics on-site, along with churches and shelters like the Pueblo Rescue Mission. Brooks said the mobile circuit has vaccinated more than 1,700 people, while outreach to folks who are home-based has resulted in more than 850 people receiving vaccinations.

While community partnership was always part of the plan, Brooks said the site originally was going to have a mobile unit like a van travelling to different locations around the county. 

"[But] that wasn't something the community desired," said Brooks. "So [instead] we went to brick and mortar locations that the community was familiar with, that they frequent, that they trust."

Kate McIntire with the Colorado Joint Vaccination Task Force said the site isn't closing due to low turnout, but because the fairgrounds are getting back to hosting summer events. 

"Any site that we've run, you know, we've seen folks getting vaccinated, and ultimately that's the goal," said McIntire. "Every shot in an arm is a success in terms of what Colorado's been trying to achieve."

Both McIntire and Brooks said the site will ensure that everyone has a provider to go to in the community if they receive their first shot in the next few weeks. McIntire also said the state is collaborating with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment to ensure they have the support they need to continue vaccinating people in Pueblo and the surrounding counties in the coming months.