Extreme Heat at Outdoor COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

FLIR thermal image at the UArizona POD. Thermal image showing temperature differentials with the colder evaporative coolers on the left (purple) and the hotter vehicles on the right (yellow).

Research Team | PI: Ladd Keith; Co-I: Nicole Iroz-Elardo & Ida Sami; Project Advisor: Erika Austof

Funding | University of Arizona’s Office for Research, Innovation and Impact – Research Advancement Grants

Description | To provide the Pima County Office of Emergency Management and Risk Management Division, the University of Arizona, and Tucson Medical Center with information to improve heat-health decision-making at the outdoor COVID-19 vaccination sites, we collected wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) and surface temperatures in a quasi-experimental design at three Point of Distribution (POD) sites. We measured how WBGT changes at several key locations in each site such as intake and observation areas with no shade, tent shade, tent shade with vehicles, tent shade with cooling, and waiting areas for walk-in vaccinations. Our analysis controlled for the reported regional ambient air temperature to approximate changing weather, time of day, and applicability for real-world decision-making. We also took surface temperatures to understand the differentials in radiant temperature from the ground and vehicles in different situations. Data collection was managed by research team leads and utilized student volunteers from the university’s Student Aid for Field Epidemiology Response (SAFER) program.


  • Keith, Ladd, Nicole Iroz-Elardo, Erika Austof, Ida Sami*, and Mona Arora. 2021. Extreme Heat at Outdoor COVID-19 Vaccination Sites. Journal of Climate Change and Health. 4(2021), 100043. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joclim.2021.100043