Summit County locals jump at the opportunity to be a part of the COVID-19 vaccine effort
After experiencing a year of uncertainty and stress, some Summit County locals found themselves jumping at the opportunity to volunteer for the county’s COVID-19 vaccination effort.
Since the county held its first drive-thru vaccination event on Dec. 26, volunteers from the Summit Community and Senior Center have been a major part of the effort, directing traffic, filling vials and administering vaccines.
“It was a way that I could give back to the community and do something that I was capable of doing,” said Marc Schlesinger, a retired physician who has helped administer vaccines at nearly all of the drive-thru events to date. “It was the right thing to do.”
Schlesinger isn’t the only retired health care professional who has volunteered for the drives. Georgette Contos, a retired public health official, and Mickie Parsons, a retired nurse, both have volunteered at the events, giving people their first or second doses of the vaccine.
For Contos, the ability to give people the vaccine has been a rewarding experience.
“It was so uplifting to see people’s happiness and know that you’re part of the solution,” she said. “People were taking selfies, we were dancing around when the first responders and the ambulances came through.”
Contos added that she’ll never forget the moment the vaccine arrived at the first event on Dec. 26.
“We were all literally in tears,” she said.
The local vaccination effort hasn’t been seamless. Officials are fighting to get more doses as the supply has dropped in Phase 1b.2 of the state’s vaccine rollout. However, those involved in the process say they couldn’t be prouder of Summit County’s approach to vaccine distribution.
“We did our drive-thru vaccines before there were Coors Field and UCHealth efforts,” Schlesinger said in reference to a mass vaccination event in which UCHealth gave out 10,000 shots at Coors Field in Denver. “I think the county public health deserves some applause.”
However, the county’s public health team wouldn’t be able to pull off the vaccine events alone. The volunteers involved are a large reason for the success of the drives.
“That’s the nature of Summit County,” Parsons said. “It’s kind of bred in our culture and everybody steps up for whatever they can do to contribute to whatever initiative is going on.”
Parsons, Schlesinger and Contos all believe in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. While some people might be hesitant to receive their dose when it is their turn, the three said the vaccine is much better than the alternative.
“The benefits exceedingly outweigh any of the side effects,” Schlesinger said. “If you have a true allergy or an anaphylactic reaction, that’s different, but that’s rare in numbers.”
Parsons added that she believes its everyone’s duty to get the vaccine, as it’s the only way society will achieve herd immunity without more people dying.
“I can understand that some people may have some apprehension, but the only way that we’re going to get a hold of this virus and stop the spread is that more and more people are vaccinated,” she said. “Gradually, people are realizing that, but it’s a long haul.”
The following links have information about how to get vaccinated:
• To get on a list to be vaccinated through the public health department in Summit County, or any other county, visit CoMassVax.org.
• A full list of providers in Summit County: SummitCountyCo.gov/vaccine (Individuals who need assistance scheduling an appointment can call 970-668-9730.)
• Centura Health: Centura.org/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine-information
• List of vaccination providers across Colorado: CoCOVIDVaccine.org
People ages 65 and older, health care workers, first responders and educators are eligible for the vaccine. Educators and child care workers should ask their employer about scheduling an appointment.
People with questions about the local response to COVID-19 can call the county’s hotline at 970-668-9730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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