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COVID-19 vaccinations begin at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor

December 31, 2020 GMT

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan’s Big House has been transformed into The Big Vaccine Clinic.

A few hundred University of Michigan medical professionals and students who work in health care settings received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday at Michigan Stadium, one of the nation’s largest sporting venues.

Known as The Big House, the on-campus stadium welcomed 100,000-plus maize-and-blue-clad fans on fall Saturdays before the pandemic.

“I am a lifelong University of Michigan football fan and come to the stadium regularly for games, but have never been here in this capacity before,” said Dr. David Miller, chief clinical officer at University Hospital and the cardiovascular center.

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The state reported more than 4,200 new virus cases Wednesday and 51 deaths. More than 12,000 Michigan residents have died since March. The state has said it will not update it’s virus case numbers on Thursday or Friday — New Year’s Day.

The rollout of vaccines started earlier this month across the state.

The University of Michigan said its employees and students will receive a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dose at the football stadium.

The Michigan Stadium clinic is not open to the public. Those who visited on Thursday’s opening day did so by appointment only and fall into the vaccine priority group Phase 1A category.

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Michigan Medicine already has vaccinated thousands of health care workers.

“What became clear is that we needed first a venue with a lot of space,” Miller said. “And the stadium met that need. And we need a lot of space, because we need to be able to achieve social distancing, both for the team members and community members here to receive the vaccine, as well as for our vaccination teams.”

As more vaccine doses become available, as many as 2,000 vaccinations a day could be administered at the Michigan Stadium site.

Sara McCrea, a registered nurse from nearby Dexter who was vaccinated at the stadium, said the entire process took only 10 minutes.

“It’s been great. I got to come in and see this beautiful building. Everybody here has been really friendly, very easy to work with. The process is very quick. There’s plenty of parking. I’m happy,” she said.