As more people become eligible, health officials face complicated vaccine distribution process
As Colorado moves through COVID-19 vaccine distribution phases, the local vaccine rollout is becoming increasingly complicated.
Monday, Feb. 8, was the first day that Coloradans ages 65-69 and educators were eligible for the vaccine. However, local public health officials did not finalize the distribution plan for the new phase until the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 9.
At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday afternoon, Public Health Director Amy Wineland explained that there are four “pots” of vaccine distribution.
The first pot, Wineland said, is the doses of vaccines that providers — including public health, City Market, Safeway, St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, the Summit Community Care Clinic and Centura Health Physicians Group — order from the state every Monday. Those doses are available to anyone who is eligible.
The second pot of doses are reserved specifically for the educator and child care worker population, Wineland said. The primary provider for the educator and child care worker population is the Community Care Clinic, and those who qualify should reach out to their employer about scheduling an appointment.
The clinic will receive an allocation of doses specifically for that population each week. This week, however, educators will be vaccinated at a drive-thru event Saturday, Feb. 13, hosted by public health and using the doses sent to the care clinic.
“At the state level, they’re actually taking some portion of the state-allocated vaccine to go toward educators and child care (centers) and working with school districts and who they’ve identified as their provider to vaccinate their population,” Wineland said.
The third pot is the vaccines allocated to an entire health system. So Centura, as a health system, has a certain number of vaccines it’s able to spread out to its hospitals and providers across Colorado. Those health systems also are able to order their own vaccine directly from the manufacturers.
“For example, Centura in the Denver area might get some vaccine, and they’ll send some our way to our hospital because they know that Centura, within that system, (has) this many people in this population,” Wineland said.
The fourth pot is a federal pharmacy vaccination program, Wineland said. Kroger and Walmart are the only two pharmacies in the program.
The City Market pharmacies in Breckenridge and Dillon, which are owned by Kroger, are anticipating receiving doses directly from the federal government as part of the program, Wineland said.
“There are lots of ways that we get vaccine, and it’s complicated,” Wineland said. “We don’t hear all on the same day what people are going to be getting.”
Although there are added avenues for the providers within the county to receive the vaccine, the county overall is going to be receiving fewer doses than it did at the beginning of the distribution process, Wineland said.
Because the county was able to quickly set up a vaccine distribution process through its drive-thru events, public health received more doses than many other counties across the state. Now that other counties have been able to catch up, the statewide allocation is more equitable, Wineland said.
Overall, it means people should be patient, she said. The county opened its vaccine scheduler for Saturday’s drive-thru event at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. The appointments were full before 4 p.m.
There may be some opportunities later in the week for people to schedule an appointment at one of the City Market pharmacies, as they have not yet received the allocation of vaccines from the federal government.
“It will probably not be as quick as this last (phase) was with the 70-plus community, where we just had so many vaccines in a shorter time,” Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said. “Instead, it will be more spread out as it has been for other communities in Colorado.”
Lawrence added that commissioners will be asking the state to inform public health officials about how many vaccine doses providers are receiving per week. Currently, local health officials have to go to providers to find out that information.
Who is eligible to be vaccinated
• Health care workers and first responders
• Seniors ages 65 and older
• Teachers and child care workers
How to get vaccinated
The following links have information about how to schedule a coronavirus vaccination appointment across the state:
• Summit County: SummitCountyCo.gov/vaccine
• Centura Health: Centura.org/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine-information
• List of vaccination providers across Colorado: CoCOVIDVaccine.org
Educators and child care providers should ask their employer about receiving a vaccine.
How to get tested
The following places offer testing for the virus in Summit County:
• Centura Health’s Centers for Occupational Medicine in Frisco: Testing available daily by appointment at the Vista Professional Building. To schedule an appointment, call 970-668-5584.
• State testing in Silverthorne: Drive-thru testing available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at 591 Center Circle. No appointment, insurance or identification required.
• Vail Health testing in Breckenridge: Testing available by appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the Speakeasy Movie Theater, 103 S. Harris St. Book an appointment at VailHealth.org/covidscheduling.
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