Yakima mass vaccination site is fully FEMA-funded

FEMA will help to administer up to 1,200 doses daily for the next eight weeks

YAKIMA, Wash. — The drive-thru community COVID-19 vaccination center at State Fair Park is reopening this week — now with the support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While local partners remain in control of operations, FEMA will be on site for the next eight weeks to help vaccinate up to 1,200 people per day between the vaccination center and mobile vaccination clinics throughout the county.

The Yakima site is the first fully FEMA-funded COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Washington state. More than 200 people — including 100 from the U.S. Army — are working at the vaccination center.

Over the weekend, local and federal partners spent the weekend rearranging the site to accommodate the thousands more people per week they anticipate will be coming to get the vaccine.

“We already had sort of a blueprint for the parking lot once we arrived here,” said Steve Engle, Operations Section Chief with the incident management team on site. “It was just a matter of getting the proper materials, enhancing what was already given to us and setting it up.”

People can still enter through Gate 15 if they are wanting to get tested for COVID-19, but those wanting vaccinations will need to enter further down the street at Gate 12.

Engle said county crews worked to put down gravel on a more than mile-long stretch of unused dirt road at the fairgrounds, winding around from Gate 12, through the fairgrounds and finally ending at the vaccination tents near the Sundome.

Drivers will need to stop several times along the route; the first stop is to confirm whether the person has registered for an appointment. Engle said anyone without an appointment will be directed to a second lane and may be able to get in for a vaccine if someone else doesn’t show up or the appointments aren’t filled for the day.

Engle said the second stop along the line is a medical check to determine that the person isn’t sick and is eligible to receive the vaccine.

“We also have a mobile component to this,” Engle said. “We’re going to be taking mobile teams out in the community, hitting targeted communities that the health department has asked us to go out and reach out to.”

The mobile clinics will be geared toward people who don’t have easy access to the vaccine, including those working in agriculture and living in rural areas of the county. Engle said staff are training this week and plan to start having those mobile clinics next week.

Engle said the most rewarding part of the program is knowing how much of a difference it will make in the health and safety of the community.

“You sit back and you realize that when you’re done, you’re hopefully gonna vaccinate 35,000 to 40,000 people in eight weeks,” Engle said.

To register for an appointment, visit the PrepMod website here.

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*Several officials previously said that the site was the first fully federally-funded mass vaccination site in the country, but FEMA officials later corrected that information to show it’s the first site in the state, not the country. This article has been updated to reflect that change.