The race to vaccinate is speeding up in the Granite State: Twelve thousand people will get the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"I like to sometimes kid that we went from 0-100 really fast," laughed the speedway's general manager, David McGrath.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, the green flag drops at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but this time, it's a different kind of race.
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"We have moved 12,000 individuals up, mostly all from April, into just this weekend," explained Gov. Chris Sununu on Thursday.
Sununu turned to the Speedway to host a mass vaccination event on its 1,100 acres, with the doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine unexpectedly now available.
"We are logistics experts, we are accustomed to this, we've been doing this for over 30 years with NASCAR races," McGrath explained.
He said that people should arrive no more than 15 minutes before their appointment, and that they will "come in either the north gate or the south gate.
And that's where the nearly three-mile vaccine course begins. Eventually, drivers will arrive at the infield, where people register and then snake their way through in a single-file line, before spreading out at the vaccine tent.
Once people get their shot, they will follow pit road to the "center garage" for observation, a place that's usually only open to NASCAR pit crews.
"A lot of people are excited to go into an area that they normally have never had access to," McGrath said.
"I think that's so cool, I didn't know that," said Rochester resident Lynn Hallinan.
She wasn't scheduled until mid-April. Now, she's got a 9 a.m. time slot on Saturday at the speedway.
"I'll be 68 this year and I really wanted to get this shot," Hallinan said Friday.
The state's first mass vaccination event is shining a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I'm hoping come June or July, we won't have to wear face masks anymore, we can see more people and do more things," Hallinan said.
There are no more available appointments for this weekend, but McGrath sai that, depending on the supply from the federal government, there could be more events like this at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the future.