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Stadiums to serve as vaccination super centers

Sites across the country are being transformed into massive outdoor vaccination centers.
Image: Dodgers Stadium parking lot, covid testing
Drivers with appointments wait in line to get a free COVID-19 self-test at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, on Dec. 1, 2020.Damian Dovarganes / AP file

Outdoor NFL stadiums and Major League Baseball ballparks across the country are being repurposed as states work to administer the Covid-19 vaccine en masse.

While decisions about how to distribute the vaccine are being left to state and local health officials, as of Tuesday morning the CDC reported that more than 9.3 million people had received the first of the two needed doses of the vaccine. In total, more than 27.7 million doses have been administered.

The move to use large venues like stadiums comes as many states are increasing distribution to groups beyond health care workers and nursing home residents, to include senior citizens, teachers, first responders and essential workers.

Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres are providing a 280,000-square-foot parking lot near their downtown ballpark that's usually used for tailgating. The site has been turned into a massive outdoor vaccine center. In Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium will be used for the city's vaccine rollout.

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Mayor Francis Suarez announced that Marlins Park in Miami, which was used as a Covid-19 testing site, will be utilized as a vaccination center. The stadium of the NFL's Miami Dolphins will also be used for this purpose.

New York City will use the Mets' Citi Field ballpark, and officials in Houston will use the Astros' Minute Maid Park to administer vaccines.

In Arizona, which has the highest number of average daily cases per 100,000 people, the NFL's Arizona Cardinals will host 24/7 vaccine administration at State Farm Stadium.

“Our new vaccine site in Glendale will rapidly expand the number of Arizonans getting vaccinated,” Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement. “We need to get these vaccine doses out of freezers and into the arms of Arizonans who want it, and our new site will speed up that process."

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The vaccine rollout has been sluggish across the country. The use of these spacious outdoor venues is one attempt to more quickly administer the vaccine to larger numbers of people as the rollout continues. The size of these venues is ideal because it allows for greater spacing between people. Outdoor settings are also thought to be less risky than indoor ones, according to the CDC.

Operation Warp Speed, which began under President Donald Trump, has withheld available doses in order to make sure that people are able to get their second dose on time. The two vaccines have different timetables for the first and second doses, with the Pfizer vaccine requiring that its two shots be given 21 days apart and the Moderna vaccine requiring 28 days in between.

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to quickly release more doses of the vaccine once he takes office.