State Farm Stadium will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines only overnight starting April 4 as part of the state’s transition to indoor vaccine locations because of rising temperatures.
The state’s four mass vaccination sites — three in the Phoenix area and one in Tucson — have plans for mitigating heat and some are moving indoors.
State Farm Stadium will become overnight only and the state plans to open an indoor location to replace its capacity; the Phoenix Municipal Stadium site near Tempe will move indoors in April; the Chandler-Gilbert Community College site in the southeast Valley will move to a warehouse in Mesa in April; the University of Arizona site in Tucson will remain outdoors but will move inside if necessary.
And a new state-supported site is opening at an indoor site in Yuma at the end of March.
“One of the things that all of us from Arizona know is that our weather here is going to start transitioning to be where it’s less pleasant outside,” Dr. Cara Christ, the Arizona Department of Health Services director, said at a Friday news briefing. “We are working with our partners on finalizing plans for transitioning our state sites to indoor locations and we are planning on continuing to increase the vaccination capacity.”
April and May will be getting too warm for volunteers and patients to be safe outside, Christ said, especially patients who don’t have air conditioning in their cars. The iPads used for registration and records also won’t work as well in the heat, furthering the need to move inside.
State Farm Stadium in Glendale, the first state site to open in January, operates in a large parking lot that will get very hot.
“One of the concerns is that our technology, as it gets over 90 and 100 degrees, will not work as well, or at all. And we want to make sure that we are keeping our patients and our volunteers and staff out there safe,” Christ said.
The site will begin operating only overnight — instead of its current 24/7 schedule — to adjust for rising temperatures.
State Farm Stadium will pause vaccinations at midnight on April 3 and will resume at 5 p.m. on April 4. After that, it will provide shots nightly only from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.
The site will run close to its current capacity by adding more appointments each hour, Christ said. The site should be able to administer about 8,000 to 10,000 doses in the 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. range, compared to the 9,000 to 11,000 it’s hitting running 24/7, Christ said.
The state plans to open an indoor site in April to replace State Farm Stadium and so there’s only a short window of time that it’s only running overnight. Christ said there are a few options being evaluated that would have significant capacity. She did not list any possible locations.
The Arizona Health Department wants to hit 1 million vaccines administered at the Cardinals stadium before shutting down, Christ said.
“That obviously will be dependent on the weather and how long our technology can stay operational and we can keep our patients safe,” she said. “But we would really like to hit that one million goal mark at State Farm.”
On Monday, State Farm Stadium crossed the 500,000 doses administered mark.
The state’s other vaccine sites have a range of plans:
Phoenix Municipal Stadium: The site will continue to operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Christ said there is more of a breeze at the stadium site and also more covered areas. The state is working with Arizona State University to identify a new indoor location to transition to in April, Christ said.
Chandler-Gilbert Community College: The site will stop vaccinations at the end of the day April 3. Operations will move to a new location in Mesa starting April 5. Asked whether the location is the Dexcom warehouse, Christ said she believed it was. People getting their first doses now at Chandler-Gilbert Community College are having their second doses scheduled for the Mesa site. The indoor facility will be able to provide up to 10,000 doses per day, Christ said.
University of Arizona: The Tucson POD plans to continue operating as is. Christ said there is more grass, shade and overhead structures to keep people cooler. The option to move completely into a currently operating indoor site remains if needed, she said.
Yuma Civic Center: This indoor vaccine location will transition to a state-supported site operating 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily starting March 29. About 8,000 appointments per week will be offered initially, but the site has the capacity for 28,000 appointments per week, Christ said.
The state opened its second site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium Feb. 1, and transitioned a POD at the University of Arizona to be a state-run site on Feb. 18. On March 3, the state took over operations of a vaccine site at Chandler-Gilbert Community College that previously has been operated by Dignity Health.
The state may open more state-run sites in the future. Christ said Friday that the state is looking at possible sites in Coconino County and additional sites in the metro Phoenix area, including in the northeast Valley.
Those without computers or those who need extra help registering can call the state’s help line at 844-542-8201.