Hundreds line up for drive-thru vaccinations

Public health nurses give COVID shots in one of the two bays at the Manti fire station last week. Photo by Robert Stevens

The number of people receiving COVID shots at drive-through vaccination clinics at the Manti and Mt. Pleasant fire stations reached a new high last week.

The Central Utah Public Health Department (CUPHD) has been running the clinics one day per week at each fire station since about the first of February.

When the drive-through clinic started in Manti, initially only for people 70 and older, about 80 people were coming through, says Betsy Erickson, secretary in the health department’s Manti office.

Aerial photo taken Wednesday, March 3 shows a line of cars snaking along 100 South from 300 East to the rear of the parking lot behind the Manti City Annex and South Sanpete School District. From the parking lot the cars pull into the rear of the Manti fire station for COVID vaccinations. About 430 people received shots in four hours. Photo by Robert Stevens

About Feb. 25, the Manti and Mt. Pleasant sites started administering both first and second doses to the over-70 population. That caused the volume to pick up.

Then Gov. Spencer Cox announced that beginning March 1, the vaccine could be given to anyone 65 and older.

The result was the biggest day yet in Manti and Mt. Pleasant.

On Wednesday, March 3, 430 people in the 65-and-older group drove through two bays at the Manti fire station between 1 and 4 p.m. to receive either their first or second COVID shot. That was double any previous day.

At the peak about 1:30 p.m., the line of cars was nearly four blocks long, stretching along 100 South from about 300 East to the parking lot behind the South Sanpete School District office. That’s where cars turned and drove across the back of the parking lot to the rear of the fire station.

Despite the line, the maximum wait time was only about 30 minutes. Erickson, who checked to make sure people coming through were pre-registered, said, “I talked with almost every person. People were super, super nice. They were very, very grateful.” She said only one person complained about the wait.

The drive-through clinic at the Mt. Pleasant fire station was held Thursday, March 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to Carol Mott, secretary in the Mt. Pleasant public health office, who helped with the clinic, 450 people went through, about double any previous day. The line in Mt. Pleasant was about two blocks long at its peak.

Running the clinics has been a community effort. At least 15 people were involved in the Manti clinic last week, including school nurses, public health nurses, Snow College nursing students, and administrative staff from the Manti and Mt. Pleasant public health offices.

EMTs from the Manti Ambulance Association pitched in by directing traffic and monitoring people who had just received their shots and who were asked to park on the street outside the fire station to make sure they didn’t have an adverse reaction.

The drive-through at the Manti fire station will continue to be held each Wednesday from 1-4 p.m., while the clinic at the Mt. Pleasant fire station will be Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon until further notice, according to the staff of the Manti and Mt. Pleasant public health offices.

And the volume this week could be even bigger than last week. The state has opened up vaccine appointments to everyone over 50, as well as people who have certain high-risk health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes or an organ transplant. (All of the conditions are listed on the home page of the CUPHD website at centralutahpublichealth.org.)

The website shows that so far, the CUPHD has administered first doses to about 8,000 people and second doses to about 3,700 in the Six-County Area.

Besides running clinics in all of the counties, CUPHD has set up partnerships with pharmacies, including the pharmacies at Terrel’s Market and Gunnison Markets, to give COVID shots.  According to the CUPHD website, Terrel’s and the Gunnison Market are administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Vaccination is also available at the Ephraim Walmart through a separate partnership between the federal government and Walmarts nationwide.

Angie Knaphus, public information officer at CUPHD headquarters in Richfield, emphasized that whatever your age group or where you want to get your vaccination, you have to preregister.

Preregistration is offered primarily through the website,  http://www.centralutahpublichhealth.org.