Vaccine drive-thru relocated to Park

Building acts as temporary clinic


Sophie Livingston

Park hosted a vaccine clinic on April 24 and 25. This clinic is part of a larger effort by the community to reach herd immunity.

Danny Shope

When bad weather spelled problems for a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic, the Hennepin County Public Health Department looked to relocate to Park, according to Communications Manager Allison Thrash.

“(It was) too cold and wet for people giving injections to be standing outside for eight-hour shifts,” Thrash said. “Once we realized that, our logistics staff reached out to their contacts at St. Louis Park High School because of our previous work — we actually have a many-year relationship with (Park) — and said, ‘We’ve used the field house before, is it free this weekend?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely. Come on over.’”

This unexpected vaccination clinic was held at Park April 24 and 25. Over those two days, 682 people received a COVID-19 shot. Among those, 118 were walk-ins — meaning they did not make an appointment ahead of time. According to senior Koby Davis, walk-in clinics are beneficial for people with fewer resources.

“Any kind of walk-up clinic is really great because it takes out the logistical challenge of having to schedule an appointment, which also removes the barrier of entry to people who might not be able to schedule that appointment — people who might not have cell phones or computers or anything like that,” Davis said. “Everyone still getting vaccinated is a huge win for the state in reopening and getting rid of COVID.”

For many people, securing a vaccine appointment has been difficult, with some having to spend a lot of time and energy scouring sites for possible openings. Junior Truman Fillbrandt said the convenience of walk-in clinics will make getting vaccinated easier.

“They’re giving people who who can’t wake up at 1 a.m. and scout out every single random vaccine opening the ability to get a walk-in, I think it’s really nice to (give shots to) those kinds of people, people who don’t have time or the energy to wake up at a time like that,” Fillbrandt said.

Vaccination clinics such as this one are part of a larger effort by the community and country as a whole to reach herd immunity, a state where enough people are vaccinated to make infection rates extremely low. Fillbrandt stresses the importance of having vaccine clinics in order to reach this point.

“(There are) younger kids who aren’t allowed to be vaccinated, or people who can’t leave their houses, so it’s nice to have everyone else vaccinated for herd immunity. Then we can get back to what life was like in 2019,” Fillbrandt said. 

The clinic at Park distributed the Moderna vaccine, which has not been approved for people under 18. While this means that most high school students were unable to participate in this clinic, Davis said his teachers are focused on finding opportunities for students to get the shot.

“Pretty much all my teachers have given us links or contact information for vaccine centers, not only here but also for pharmacies all over. They say that Minnesota has a surplus of vaccines, so if there’s an available shot and they’re giving us access to those available shots, then we should go get them,” Davis said.

Now that large numbers of people are becoming vaccinated due to efforts including this clinic at Park, some social distancing restrictions may begin to relax. However, vaccinated people should continue to mask up at school and other indoor public places to protect those around them, according to Thrash.

“There’s still a small risk that you could get exposed to the virus, either have a really mild illness or be asymptomatic and still spread it to people who have not yet gotten the vaccine,” Thrash said. “So it’s not just about protecting yourself, you continue to wear the mask to protect other people in your family, in your community.”