Arizona's 1st indoor drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site opens in Mesa

Arizona opened its first indoor drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site in Mesa on April 5 as temperatures are expected to rise in the upcoming summer months.

The distribution center, located near the Loop 202 and Power Road, will serve as a replacement for the state-run site currently operating at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Those who received their first dose at the college will receive their second dose at the new site, according to a news release from the state department of health.

"As the hot summer months approach, we want to ensure our vaccination sites continue to operate efficiently," Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement. "Health care professionals, volunteers, staff, and those getting vaccinated need access to safe, weather-friendly sites as vaccine doses are administered, and this indoor site helps address that need."

Officials say the 500,000 square-foot facility will offer 3,000 to 4,000 appointments per day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week until June 30, and it can support 24/7 operation. As with the other state-run locations, appointments are required in order to visit.

The new site is being operated by Dexcom, a company that manufactures glucose monitoring products for people with diabetes. 30,000 square feet of their Mesa Regional Distribution Center will be dedicated to COVID-19 vaccination efforts, according to the news release.

At the site, people will stay in their cars the entire time. They will receive the vaccine and are monitored indoors. Once complete, they will be able to drive out.

James Kasselman with Dexcom says they are working closely with the city and fire officials, and will monitor air quality 24 hours.

'They conducted the studies. We have forced air coming down from the ceiling. We have forced air coming out. We have blowers going out. We created a positive pressure that pushes through in this vehicle space," said Kasselman.

Dexcom drive thru covid

(Arizona Department of Health Services)

"As summer approaches, ADHS and its partners are finalizing plans for continuing mass-vaccination operations at other sites," health officials wrote. "This positions the state to be ready for additional vaccine supplies expected from the federal government."

Dr. Cara Christ with the Arizona Department of Health Services says the site will keep people safe from the heat.

"The people are the most important," said Dr. Christ. "We want to make sure they’re safe. What we were identifying is that the temperatures were also playing a role in our technology. We had technology issues so it will protect that. Of course the vaccine. The vaccine does not like to be warm, so keeping it in cool temperatures is much more desirable."

State Farm Stadium will be converting from 24/7 to overnight operations in early April as well in order to protect staff, volunteers and visitors from excessive heat exposure.

The mass vaccination site will move indoors to Gila River Arena on April 23.

Anyone who needs extra help registering for a vaccine can contact the state's helpline at 1-844-542-8201.

Find a vaccination site near you: http://azhealth.gov/findvaccine

Register for a vaccine at a state-run site: http://podvaccine.azdhs.gov/

More about the vaccine: http://azdhs.gov/COVID19Vaccines

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

FOX 10 is working to keep you up to date with local and national developments on COVID-19. Every weekday on FOX News Now, our live coverage begins at 7 a.m. MST reporting the latest news, prevention tips and treatment information.

You can watch live in your FOX 10 News app or on the FOX 10 Facebook page.

You can also get the latest coronavirus news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com

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