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Mayo Civic Center set up to deliver 1,500 vaccine doses, preparing for future

Mayo Civic Center's mass vaccination site

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Minnesota's third mass vaccination site opens Sunday in the Med City.

Minnesotans age 65 and older who were waitlisted on the state's pilot program in Rochester will be the first 1,500 to be vaccinated on Sunday.

"Any step we can take to get life back to normal, we're all over it," said Joe Ward, Mayo Civic Center president.

The Minnesota Department of Health operates two other locations in the state in Minneapolis and Duluth. Just like the other two sites, Vault Health plans to administer the vaccine.

"I got to say it's been pretty smooth. I think we figured out the ratio, so we don't have a long line of people waiting," said Dr. Myles Spar, Vault Chief Medical Officer for Vault Health Inc. "We try and get people in and through the whole process, including the waiting period, in well under an hour."

Moving forward, people can then sign up on the Minnesota Department of Health's website to get their name in the lottery for an upcoming Sunday as vaccine supply allows. Neither Vault Health nor the civic center faced any problems turning the site into a vaccine clinic.

"The challenge has really been dispelling myths about the vaccine. Some people are afraid of it because there are rumors out there," Spar said. "Other than that, very few side effects. People tolerate it really well."

However, there are concerns of people being able to get into the building easily.

"Accessibility is sometimes perception," Ward said. "I think there is a good plan here."

He says the best way to access the site is through the civic center parking ramp elevator and the skyway which will take someone right where they need to go. The doors open tomorrow at the Civic Center as the first vaccines go out at 8 am.

It will not the first time this venue has been used for a different purpose during the pandemic.

"A warming shelter back in March in partnership with the city and county," Ward remembers. "Then, we transformed into a distance learning facility supporting the Boys and Girls Club's efforts. They just left."

Ward confirms there is room in the building to expand the vaccine site if supply increases.

"If more vaccine become available and the state wants us to serve in a greater capacity, we're ready to do that as well," Ward said. "It says 'civic center' on this building for a reason. We plan to be a civic partner now and into the future."

Ward says there will be staff available tomorrow to show people into the building as well as wheelchairs inside for those who need them.

Alex Tejada

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