The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System (SAVACHS) held a mass COVID-19 vaccination event at the Arizona Western College Schoening Conference Center in Yuma, Arizona, on Saturday, March 27.

This was the first COVID-19 mass vaccination event held outside of the Tucson medical facility. Staff administered 400 Janssen COVID-19 vaccines during the event in Yuma.

According to Chief of Pharmacy Kristina De Los Santos, the event was highly successful due to the months of planning and the support of Arizona Western College staff.

Army Veteran John Simpson receives the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

“We got multidisciplinary groups together to coordinate everything from registration, scheduling, education and staffing the event to ensure we covered everything.”

Transporting vaccine safely on four-hour drive

Yuma is a four-hour drive from the main medical center in Tucson. One of the challenges is transporting vaccines safely and storing the vaccines onsite at the correct temperature.

Pictured above, pharmacy staff prepare Janssen COVID-19 vaccines prior to the start of the mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

“We have a high-grade transportation cooler that keeps the vaccine nice and cold, De Los Santos said. “We were able to store the vaccine on site at the correct temperature.”

Retired Army Veteran John Simpson was all smiles when he received his COVID-19 vaccine.

“It was great that they contacted me for an appointment. I am very happy that I was able to receive the vaccine. I contacted COVID-19 back in December and read that getting this vaccine would help boost my immune system.”

Simpson is looking forward to playing music again with his band and getting the vaccine is one step closer for him.

“I can’t wait to get back together with my band and start performing live shows.”

Grateful for college support

“It’s an honor to be involved to bring vaccine to Veterans in this rural community,” De Los Santos said of support from Arizona Western College. “They are so grateful for us and we are grateful for them.”

To date, the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System has administered over 37,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Veterans within Southern Arizona.

Luke Johnson is the assistant public affairs officer for the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.

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Published on Apr. 9, 2021

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