Summit County officials work to provide more transparency in vaccine distribution process
After many were left frustrated and confused when just 60 available vaccine appointments rapidly filled Tuesday, Feb. 9, Summit County commissioners are pushing for more transparency in the vaccine distribution process.
At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Thursday, Feb. 11, commissioners asked public health officials to provide more clarity and details when it comes to distribution. It took just eight minutes for appointments to fill Tuesday, causing many questions and concerns about vaccine availability from the public.
“I know we’re saying ‘appointments are limited,’ but limited could be all sorts of definitions,” Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said. “I mean, 60? That’s such a small, low number. And I’m not blaming us, that’s just what we got allocated, but I think we need to be as transparent as possible ahead of time.”
Going forward, public health officials said they would include the number of appointments that are available each week in the SC Alert system, which is used to notify the public about open appointments.
Officials also are going to work to send alerts out hours before appointments open. On Thursday, the county sent an alert at about 1:30 p.m. to notify the public about available appointments at City Market in Breckenridge, which were set to open after 8 p.m. Thursday.
“It’ll allow community members to prepare and be near a device if they need to sign up,” county spokesperson Nicole Valentine said.
Valentine added that future SC Alerts will include a time for when appointments will go live.
City Markets in Breckenridge and Dillon had 100 total appointments available for the week.
At the meeting, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said a glitch in the system led to the Dillon City Market scheduling link being open before the county was able to notify the public. Because of that, the slots filled up with people searching for appointments.
“There was a new scheduler working for City Market Dillon, and they made their link live without letting us know, and it filled up right away, so we weren’t able to message for the City Market Dillon 50 doses (Wednesday),” Wineland said. “That, hopefully, won’t happen again.”
Commissioner Tamara Pogue suggested that the public health team make a calendar or another kind of graphic to show the timeline for when people might expect appointments to open.
“If we could do some kind of … calendar with big letters (saying) ‘things are subject to change every week’ or some other way to give folks a little bit of a sense of the various things that roll out over the course of a week on our website, that might reduce some of the frustration,” she said.
At the meeting, Wineland gave more specifics about the distribution of the 600 doses — 616 when possible extra doses within a vial are counted — the county and all of the providers received this week. Of the 600, 100 went to the Summit Community Care Clinic, 100 were shared between the two City Market pharmacies, 40 were sent to Centura Health and 172 were given to public health.
Within the 172 that were given to the county, Valentine said some were held for health care workers, first responders, people who still need a second dose and people who might not have equitable access to vaccine appointments, such as people who don’t have internet or telephone access. After those doses were held, only 60 were available to the general public ages 65 and older.
The remaining doses are being reserved for educators and child care workers, which falls in line with a requirement by the state that one-third of all doses are reserved for educators. The group will be vaccinated alongside people 65 and older at the drive-thru event Saturday, Feb. 13.
“We want to make sure that it does get into the arms of this population, so we are working with the employers to help identify who on their staff is at the most risk,” Wineland said. “It’s up to them to decide who is going to be offered those slots, and we will continue to do that going forward.”
Who is eligible:
• Health care workers and first responders
• Seniors ages 65 and older
• Teachers, child care workers and other people essential to the operation of schools and child care centers
Make an appointment:
The following links have information about how to schedule a coronavirus vaccination appointment across the state:
• 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
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 email@example.com.
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