Early look at Kroger Field vaccination site

A flag signals the entrance of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the Central Bank Club on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Natalie Parks

At noon on Jan. 19, the University of Kentucky will open its centralized COVID-19 clinic, offering vaccines to the Lexington community via online request and appointments.

UK had previously completed vaccinating 12,000 of its frontline healthcare staff and begun giving shots to campus employees like professors and grounds workers.

The clinic, operated out of Kroger Field, will prioritize people over the age of 70, essential workers, Fayette County Public School employees and first responders.

Before the clinic launch, UK Police chief Joe Monroe – who runs the university’s emergency operations center, which organized the clinic and handles UK’s COVID response – gave media a tour of the site.

Monroe emphasized that the vaccine clinic is by appointment only.

Vaccine recipients are supposed to park in the Blue Lot of Kroger Field and enter near Gate 11 through a series of white tents. An officer will be present to direct the line and remind those waiting of social distancing.

Once inside, recipients will be guided through a line to a bank of computers where workers will check information to verify their appointment and appropriate phase.

A short walk through the concourse, following social distancing measures, leads to the vaccine stations in the Central Bank Clubhouse.

Inside the room there are 28 vaccination stations; those with appointments will be directed to a chair to wait. Each station is equipped with a computer and syringe disposal bin. 

Vaccines are stored in a secondary site on campus. According to Monroe, they will bring the day’s doses to Kroger Field in the morning each day; the central location will make shipping easier.

Vaccines will be prepped on one side of the room by pharmacists. There is also a waiting area; recipients of the vaccine should sit for 15 minutes of observation in case of a medical reaction to the vaccine.

Shots will be administered by a mix of UK Healthcare workers and volunteers from UK’s health colleges, like the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Nursing.

Once finished, recipients will exit on the far side of the room, out through the concourse and leave through the fence at the Gate 11 marker. 

Monroe said the site has the capacity to vaccinate 2,000 people a day, but the actual number will depend on allocation from the state and sign-ups.

It took the Emergency Operations Center a week to plan the site and three days for the physical set-up. According to Monroe, the room – which is used as a lounge during football season – was selected due to parking access, large space, ADA accommodations and the fact that the room is available this time of year.

Monroe also said that the EOC team is watching drive-thru vaccination sites across the country, but felt like this was the best option for the time being. The centralized location will serve regional healthcare workers, including smaller clinics who don’t receive the vaccine on their own.

The site will also serve UK faculty, staff and students. 

Monroe said the vaccine clinic fits into the university’s goal of being of and for the Commonwealth.

“Every day we can find out what we can do better the next day,” Monroe said. His team will conduct an “after action debrief” at the end of each day to find out what can be improved.

Monroe said the site’s goal is to vaccinate “as many people as possible in a short amount of time.” This week, the clinic will focus on those in Phases 1A and 1B.

Like other vaccine distributors across the state, UK will find out on Fridays how many doses they are getting from the state for the following week. Monroe said his team is in communication with Jim Gray, who is overseeing the regional vaccine partnership with Kroger, and Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s Commissioner for Public Health.

The clinic is a collaboration between UK Healthcare, UK Athletics and the state.

Who’s in what phase: Phase 1A is for frontline medical workers and long-term care facilities. UK has vaccinated its willing healthcare personnel and CVS and Walgreens were contracted to vaccinate care facilities in Kentucky.

1B includes first responders, anyone age 70 or older and K-12 school personnel.

In 1C are people 60 or older, anyone age 16 or older with CDC highest risk C19 conditions and all essential workers.

What to expect from the online sign-up: questions on medical history, occupation and risk factors. Some questions relate to underlying conditions, contact information and relation to UK.

What happens once I request my vaccine: UK is evaluating requests according to CDC guidelines and prioritizing the most vulnerable applicants. As vaccines are administered, some groups will be completed and the next priority group will be queued. When your group is queued, you will received an email invitation from UK. For more information, visit https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/covid-19/vaccine.

Where is the Blue Lot: The Blue Lot of Kroger Field, where vaccine recipients should park, is best entered off Alumni Drive or from University Drive through the Red Lot. Markers in the lot will say “Blue Lot” and have a blue cap at the top. There is also COVID testing site in the Blue Lot, so following signs for testing and vaccinations should lead to the same place.