Another day, another dose at vaccine clinic

Camille Wright, a junior ISC and digital media design major, directs patients to open stations on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at UK’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Rayleigh Deaton

The brisk April breeze played with the flaps on a series of white vinyl tents, the tunnel through people enter the Kroger Field vaccine site and await their ‘shot of hope.’

On Saturday, April 10, the morning air was filled with a sense of expectation, excitement and hope as UK continued administering thousands of shots a day.

Many of those in line held white vaccination cards; they had already made the pilgrimage to the football stadium-turned clinic once before and were returning for their booster shot. For others, this was their first time getting a COVID vaccine, their excitement adding to the celebratory mood.

While most patrons were from Lexington, a large number came from surrounding cities and counties, some driving over an hour to receive a shot. Non-medical volunteers in bright reflective vests directed traffic flow, assisted with wheelchairs, checked people in and offered friendly “Hellos” to patrons.

This particular Saturday was “CI Day;” most volunteers working the 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. shift were faculty and students from the UK College of Communication and Information.

Among those in attendance were College of CI Dean Jennifer Greer, Integrated Strategic Communication Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Beth Barnes and journalism professor Jen Smith.

“Getting to work at the vaccine clinic made me feel like I was contributing, helping to beat this awful virus,” Smith said. “I’ve been wanting to do something, anything, to feel like I’m helping get rid of the virus, so when our college came up with this plan to work at the vaccine clinic, I was so excited to be a part of it.”

Although the morning weather was mild, dark clouds and the forecast threatened a downpour until the floodgates opened around 11 a.m. Rain pelted the vinyl tents, under which volunteers stood welcoming people and giving directions to the clinic at Gate 10.

As the morning wore on, umbrellas and raincoats replaced sandals and shorts, and volunteers switched on the propane heaters in the tents to combat the chill.

Despite the weather, there was a steady stream of families, students and individuals. Spirits remained high as patrons eagerly awaited their first or second dose. One man asked jokingly if he was in the right line for the free donuts, triggering laughter from his fellow patrons.

UK students ran into friends while waiting their turn, making the line for a shot seem more like a social event. Just a day after the university announced they had administered 200,000 doses, the influx of patrons was steady but slow.

Several veteran volunteers admitted that this Saturday’s crowd was the smallest they had ever seen, as the line to check in, on most Saturdays wrapping around the corner of the stadium, rarely exceeded a dozen individuals.

The Kroger Field clinic typically serves around 4,000 people in a given day, according to a statement from the university. Saturday’s turnout seemed a fraction of that number as UK spokesperson Jay Blanton told the Kernel UK has hundreds of open appointments in the next few weeks.

Although the inclement weather might have been a contributing factor, clinic volunteers cited the recent opening of other vaccine locations around Lexington as reasoning behind the low turnout seen at Kroger Field.

These new locations, both on- and off-campus, can now offer shots to all adults. The Commonwealth is one of several states in the U.S. that has opened up vaccines to people 16 years of age and older, and UK has become a hub for individuals across Kentucky to be tested and receive vaccinations.

Lower than average turnout aside, the patrons at the clinic seemed excited and cheerful to be there. Interacting with patrons and volunteers cheered a wet and chilly Saturday morning and showed why it is important to remain vigilant during the pandemic.

Ashley Gobeli, a UK sophomore majoring in communication, was one of the volunteers for CI Day. She appreciated the opportunity to connect with fellow Kentuckians.

“My favorite part was definitely being able to talk to all sorts of people and hearing bits and pieces of their story while also doing something good for the community,” Gobeli said.

No matter one’s major, background or availability, volunteering at the Kroger Field vaccination site is a unique way to get involved in the Lexington community and see the hope that COVID vaccines provide.

As the Commonwealth moves slowly but surely toward a more “normal” way of life, doing one’s part and giving back provides a feeling of camaraderie and purpose. Visit the UK Healthcare website ( to give volunteering a shot!