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Mohave County Fairgrounds ready for drive-thru vaccinations

Mohave County Fairgrounds Manager Tim Woods has been helping plan for conducting coronavirus vaccinations at the fairgrounds when supplies become available.  (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

Mohave County Fairgrounds Manager Tim Woods has been helping plan for conducting coronavirus vaccinations at the fairgrounds when supplies become available. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

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The entrance to the fairgrounds in Kingman. (Photo by Agata Popeda/Kingman Miner)

KINGMAN – Mohave County Fairgrounds, 2600 Fairgrounds Blvd., and its manager, Tim Woods, have been preparing for over a month to stage mass vaccinations.

The dates of COVID-19 community vaccinations are not confirmed yet, but Woods told the Miner they could start as early as the second week of January.

“This is the biggest community center in the county,” he said about the property under his management. “I consider COVID-19 a national emergency and we are here to serve the community.”

Mohave County Communications Director Roger Galloway said on Tuesday, Dec. 29 the county anticipates shipments of the vaccine that could be used in the community. The dates and quantities are not known yet, but that could change any day, and the fairgrounds in Kingman is ready.

The whole event will be completely drive-thru, with the exception of unusually tall vehicles. There will be five stations: prescreening, registration, health screening, vaccination and post-vaccination, where everybody waits the obligatory 15 minutes to be sure they don’t have a negative reaction. There will be other designated areas, too: a break area with hot meals for staff, a first aid station and an incident command center.

On Friday, Dec. 18 they held a “practice run,” Woods said. “A lot of volunteers, including myself, drove through each station. And they acted as if they were giving you a shot, just for the timing purposes.”

The total time from the moment you enter the property – the entrance will be from Detroit Avenue – until you are finished should take no longer than 45 minutes.

Woods has stacks of printouts explaining what is inside each vaccine (both Moderna and Pfizer are expected) for participants and medical personnel.

The traffic flow for the vaccinations was designed by “one of the best,” Woods said, referring to Mohave County Public Works Director Steven Latoski.

“He designed the flow,” Woods said. “He has helped us a couple of times before in 2019.”

“I feel very confident that the potential vaccination event would go smoothly,” Latoski told the Miner. “The timing was the biggest challenge, but we did a dry run on the eighteenth and we feel we did our job.”

He said Public Works routinely provides traffic assistance to large events so they draw from experience. The roads department will set up all the signage, including electric boards to direct people the right way. Woods got an FM transmitter from the City of Kingman and people in line will be able to tune in for information without leaving their vehicles.

Woods is not concerned about the storage, either, even though the Pfizer vaccine requires a particularly low temperature to store safely.

“That’s easy,” he said. “The vaccine comes in so-called pizza boxes, packed in with shaved dry ice and it’s good for five days after it arrives.”

The reason why he feels prepared is the fact that the fairgrounds just gave out 250 Thanksgiving turkeys, facilitating the food bank operations, and they completed the mission in an hour, he said.

Also, the COVID-19 year taught him a thing or two about organizing large events safely. The fairgrounds worked closely with the Mohave County Department of Public Health this year organizing a livestock show with 800 animals and the Renaissance Faire.

Woods will not be trying to get vaccinated himself during the public vaccination efforts.

“I’m not going to take it because I have means to go to my doctor and get it and pay for it,” he said. “I don’t want to take someone’s vaccine. But I’m going to do it because I am around people and because I want to keep my family safe.”

The fairgrounds is not charging money for the events. Woods considers it a community service, and said he hopes to combat anti-vaccine fears and help get local restaurants reopened.

While the fairgrounds is hanging in there, he said he would not want to experience another year without large events.

More information, also about who qualifies to receive the free vaccine, will be coming soon, said Galloway, the county’s communications director.

Currently, the Mohave County Department of Public Health is in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution, which targets health-care personnel, emergency medical services personnel and employees and residents of long-term care facilities.

The department is planning for phase 1B (educators and childcare workers, protective services occupations, essential services/critical industry, adults with risk conditions in congregate settings, and adults age 75 and older), but working with community health partners and entities to increase the reach of the vaccine efforts. Opening of vaccination sites is dependent upon the gap in available partners to vaccinate the 1B group and the availability of vaccines.

“We currently have no estimated dates on when phase 1B will begin,” county health officials wrote in a statement.

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