A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK COVID-19 vaccination clinic expands to increase capacity, can now process 450 Kentuckians per hour

By Lindsey Piercy
University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kroger Field began yet another expansion this week — increasing vaccination capacity by approximately 150 Kentuckians per hour.

“As we continue to hone our process, we continue to expand,” Lance Poston, co-director of UK Health Corps, said. “Additionally, the state recognizes UK as a leader in this space. As our supply continues to increase, we’re able to get more shots into arms quickly and efficiently.”

The vaccination clinic operates from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

(Photo by Pete Comparoni, UK)

Prior to the expansion, the Kroger Field clinic had 12 check-in stations and 30 individual vaccination spaces. Now, the clinic features 24 check-in stations and 50 individual vaccination spaces — allowing nearly 450 Kentuckians an hour to roll up their sleeves and receive a vaccine.

“It’s a tremendous undertaking to stand up a clinic, then to double the size is even more of a challenge from a logistical standpoint,” Joe Monroe, chief of UK Police, explained. “Through partnerships — internal and external — we’ve been able to secure enough equipment to make this happen. Ultimately, we’re trying to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.”

So far, UK HealthCare has administered 60,000 doses to citizens across the Commonwealth, including front-line health care workers, first responders, teachers, school personnel and people over age 70.

Behind that statistic are volunteers.

Vaccination clinics are massive public health undertakings, which require many helping hands. On any given day, approximately 120 staff members and volunteers go to work at Kroger Field — serving in roles from immunizers to wayfinders.

Volunteers from UK, including employees from UK HealthCare, athletics, emergency operations, health corps and public relations and marketing, as well as hundreds of volunteer students, faculty and staff, have joined forces to help the community meet this unprecedented challenge.

In addition to groups from the College of Medicine, volunteers from the College of Pharmacy, College of Dentistry, College of Health Sciences and College of Nursing are taking turns staffing the clinic on Saturdays.

“They are all imperative for our operation to run smoothly — from those with clinical ability who are administering vaccines to those without clinical credentials who are managing the registration tables and transporting patients,” Poston explained. “The clinic takes an incredible amount of people to run at this capacity.”

The Kroger Field location is currently the largest vaccination clinic in the region — serving 20,000+ Kentuckians per week.

“Each vaccine we give moves us closer to our ‘normal lives,’ with kids back in schools, religious services occurring in-person and individuals safely attending birthday parties and athletic events,” Dr. Ashley A. Montgomery-Yates, with UK HealthCare, said. “Every Kentuckian we vaccinate means one more person who won’t end up in the hospital, on a ventilator or worse. Each shot given is one step closer to the end of this pandemic.”

How to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

A sign-up tool has been developed where you will answer screening questions and then be invited to consent to be vaccinated, according to the state’s prioritized guidelines. The sign-up is available at ukhealthcare.uky.edu.

By completing the vaccine request form, you will be added to the database of those requesting to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Kroger Field location. The database will allow UK HealthCare to send invitations for vaccine appointments based on the recommended phased distribution from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with priority given to health care workers, essential workers and older people. Once you receive the email invitation, please respond as quickly as possible.

For questions about this process, you can call 859-218-0111 or email vaccine@uky.edu. A list of current information and frequently asked questions is available at go.uky.edu.

UK HealthCare is following Kentucky’s phased plan. Kentucky and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have directed that vaccinations be offered in the following phases:

• 1A: Long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, health care personnel.*
• 1B: First responders, anyone age 70 or older, K-12 school personnel.*
• 1C: Anyone age 60 or older, anyone age 16 or older with CDC highest risk C19 conditions, all essential workers.
• 2: Anyone age 40 or older.
• 3: Anyone age 16 or older.
• 4: Children under the age of 16 if the vaccine is approved for this age group.

Those interested in volunteering in either clinical or non-clinical positions can sign up online at redcap.uky.edu.

Lindsey Piercy writes for UK Now

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