PUEBLO, Colo. — The vaccination site at the Colorado State Fairgrounds has now increased its capacity to administer 3,000 doses per day after the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) began helping expand the operation this week.
With FEMA’s help, the site is now open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 days per week for the next eight weeks.
The site will be using vaccine doses from the federal government’s supply instead of Colorado’s and is partnering with the Department of Defense to bring medics and other trained personnel to administer the vaccine.
“It’s also challenging to find those vaccinators as we’re trying to get shots in arms across the nation.” said Nancy Dragani with FEMA, “So, the D.o.D is bringing command control, medical control, and vaccinators.”
Dragani is the acting director for FEMA Region 8. She says Pueblo is the only FEMA-backed site in the six-state region.
Pueblo was picked because of the barriers that exist across the region to getting the vaccine. Whether it’s ethnicity, language, transportation, or living in a community further away, FEMA tries to make it as easy as possible for people who want a vaccine to get one.
“If there’s a barrier out there and we don’t know about it, tell someone here at this operation, and we will work to resolve that,” Dragani said.
Appointments for the site can be made at centura.org/vaccine or by calling 720-263-5737 or 855-882-8065.
Dragani says that appointments aren’t required for the site but help the process go more quickly. People can walk up, take a taxi or rideshare app, or go to Pueblo’s transit center downtown, where buses are taking routine trips to the Fairgrounds. People who choose to take the bus won’t even have to get off as soldiers, and national guard troops will administer the vaccine while people are in their seats.
“People come on their bikes, scooters, longboards, whatever it may be,” said SSG Joshua Montelongo, a solider in the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson.
This is a deployment like no other for the young Staff Sergeant. A native of Pueblo, he’s deployed to Afghanistan as a medic in the past and can’t wait to help his hometown.
“Never once in my wildest dreams could you have told 20-year-old me while I was joining the Army that I’d be back here helping my community,” Montelongo said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be back home and see family while I’m home.”
Montelongo’s still working on getting Grandma out to get her dose, but the rest of his family has been vaccinated because they mostly work in the health care industry. He’s looking forward to vaccinating the first person he knows personally.
“I’ve always wanted to help and have the capacity to help others. So, not only was I helping out fellow soldiers within my platoon, I’m now helping local people that I grew up with.”