Summit County and state officials urge patience in COVID-19 vaccine rollout
As the state moves further into its vaccine distribution process, county borders are becoming increasingly blurred.
At a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 26, Gov. Jared Polis said UCHealth will be hosting a mass vaccination event at Coors Field this coming weekend, in which the hospital system plans to immunize 10,000 people. Those who fall within the currently eligible groups — health care workers, first responders and people 70 and older — can sign up to be on UCHealth’s call list for an appointment at the planned drive and future vaccination events by visiting UCHealth.org/covidvaccine.
Even with the mass event and the ability for people to get vaccinated anywhere, patience is required, Polis said. The state is receiving about 70,000-80,000 doses a week. With people 70 and older making up more than a half-million Coloradans, the numbers just don’t work for everyone to get an appointment when they want one.
“The limitations on supply mean that it’s not physically possible for everyone over age 70 to get it this week or even next week,” Polis said.
That being said, the state is on track to complete the goal of vaccinating 70% of the state’s 70-and-older population by the end of February. At the news conference, Polis said there would be an announcement later this week about vaccinating people who are 65 and older as well as teachers and child care providers, who might be able to receive the vaccine before March 1.
“We will be adopting the CDC guidance of 65 and up,” Polis said. “We hope to have the date for that later this week. … We need a little more information on supply.”
While the state has been optimistic about its plan to move to the next phase by March, it remains unclear how many people 70 and older have been vaccinated. At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, County Manager Scott Vargo said it’s hard to know how well the county or state have done at reaching the target population.
Although Public Health Director Amy Wineland has said the county believes it has reached a “saturation point” with demand for appointments, it took less than an hour for 100 available appointments at the Summit Community Care Clinic to fill up Tuesday morning, indicating many in the county’s 70-and-older population remain without vaccinations.
“It’s hard for us, No. 1, to know how many 70-plus folks we have here to begin with,” Vargo said. “But then we also know that some of the folks that are getting those vaccinations may be patients of Centura’s health system or the care clinic, but they may be residents of Park County or Grand County, whatever else it may be. … We do believe we have hit a great deal of that 70-plus population, but we don’t have a good benchmark to say what that percentage is of our full-time residents that are 70-plus.”
At the meeting, Wineland also gave more insight into how the county receives its allocation of vaccines. She said the county puts in an order for a certain number of doses for the following week each Monday. This Monday, the county ordered 500 doses.
However, officials don’t find out how many they’ll receive until late Thursday or early Friday of any given week, and it isn’t until the doses are in hand that officials are confident how many they’ll have for the next week.
“It’s really important to understand that it’s a statewide effort to vaccinate those within these prioritization groups, and those county lines will become less and less significant,” Wineland said.
While it remains unclear when some people will receive their first dose of the vaccine, the county remains on track to administer second doses on time.
Officials will be administering 370 second doses at a distribution event at the county bus barn Thursday, Jan. 28. City Market pharmacies in Breckenridge and Dillon will be providing second doses, as well. Those appointments already have been scheduled.
“Anybody who’s getting the vaccine needs to make sure that they’re going to be here in that either 28 days or 21 days depending on the vaccine (manufacturer),” Wineland said. “We have not used any of our second doses as first doses. We haven’t had to get to that point because we were so efficient right away.”
The following links have information about how to schedule a coronavirus vaccination appointment across the state:
• Summit County vaccines: SummitCountyCo.gov/vaccine
• UCHealth mass vaccination events: UCHealth.org/covidvaccine
• List of vaccination providers across Colorado: COVID19.Colorado.gov/where-can-i-get-vaccinated
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