Indoor drive-thru vaccination site opens at warehouse in Mesa

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(Video by Katelyn Keenehan/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Health Services on Monday opened an indoor drive-thru vaccination site at Dexcom’s regional distribution center in Mesa, providing more comfort for all involved as temperatures approach triple digits.

The move comes on the heels of an announcement that the state’s five vaccine sites have administered 1 million doses since December, with more than 3 million Arizonans having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines through the state and other providers, health officials said.

New appointments are available each Friday at 11 a.m. at DHS.

“We are thankful for the support from Dexcom and other partners to make this indoor vaccine site a reality and continue to roll the vaccine out in Arizona,” said Dr. Cara Christ, health department director. Dexcom makes glucose monitoring systems for diabetics.

Of those 1 million shots, more than 700,000 were given at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, which closed Sunday evening to transition to overnight hours moving forward, health officials said. The site, formerly operating 24/7 in the stadium’s west parking lot, has transitioned its hours for the next few weeks as the site prepares to move to an indoor location. Its hours of operation now are 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. until April 23, when the site will close for good and vaccine administration will be resumed at nearby Gila River Arena. Instead of a drive-thru site like its predecessor, patients will have to park and enter the arena to receive their shot.

In addition, a vaccination site is expected to open on April 22 at WestWorld of Scottsdale.

“This Scottsdale site will provide convenient access for our North Valley and tribal communities,” Christ said.

The view inside Dexcom’s regional distribution center in east Mesa, hours before the state-run vaccination site opened. (Photo by Katelyn Keenahan/Cronkite News)

But the Dexcom drive-thru site, near Mesa-Gateway Airport, is the first of its kind among the state-run vaccination sites. Christ said there has been a push to move all state-run sites indoors as Arizona temperatures head into the 100s.

“As we begin to receive more doses of the vaccine across the state, we want to make sure that we are looking out for our staff, volunteers, equipment and patients,” Christ said. “After this event, hundreds of vehicles will pass through this facility and the patients will benefit from this spacious, climate-controlled space.

Volunteers were also appreciative of the air-conditioning, and the ability to serve others without standing outside in the blistering sun.

“It’s lovely here,” volunteer Sally Zimmerman said. “It’s very nice in here. Much better than having to stand outside in the 95-degree heat.”

State health officials on Monday reported 608 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. To date, 16,990 Arizonans have died in the pandemic.

While vaccination sites continue to open up around the state, the pride that comes with each does not fade.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with the city of Mesa, Dexcom and Walgreens who have helped migrate this site from Chandler-Gilbert,” said Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, the director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. “We are excited to continue to build the robust spirit for our much-needed volunteers.”

(Data visualization by Eva Mo/Cronkite News)

Cronkite News reporter Katelyn Keenehan contributed to this report.

News Reporter, Los Angeles

Sabrina Kenoun expects to graduate in May 2021 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and English literature and a minor in film and media production. Kenoun, who also reports for the State Press, is working for Cronkite News this spring.

News Reporter, Phoenix

Katelyn Keenehan expects to graduate in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in digital audiences and political science. Keenehan, who is an investigative intern at 12 News in Phoenix, is working on the Innovation Team at Cronkite News.

News Digital Producer, Phoenix

Eva Mo expects to graduate in summer 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Mo, who’s from Hong Kong, has been studying abroad for four years.