Summit County to open vaccines up to second-home owners

A vial and syringe containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a drive-thru clinic at the bus depot in Frisco on Dec. 27.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Second-home owners who spend significant time in Summit County will be eligible to be vaccinated locally beginning next week.

At a Summit County Board of Health meeting Thursday, Jan. 7, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said the state’s allocation process for the novel coronavirus vaccine changed this week to allow part-time residents to be vaccinated.

The state is still in Phase 1B on its vaccination distribution plan, which means only people 70 and older — as well as those who are health care workers or first responders — are eligible to be vaccinated.

Until now, the county’s allocation of vaccine doses has been based on its 2018 census data, Wineland said. Because of that, the county wanted to prioritize vaccinations for permanent residents.

Now, the state is not holding the county to that census allocation. So the county is able to vaccinate people who live in Summit County but don’t have their permanent address there.

“We can now offer the vaccine to 70-plus for our permanent residents and our part-time residents, including second-home owners who are here for more than 30 days and can assure that they will be here for an additional 30 days for that second dose,” Wineland said.

Wineland said the county is still in the process of developing definitive documentation for who qualifies for the vaccine. However, the goal will be to focus on people who spend significant time in Summit County.

“We’re really looking at who is a second-home owner here, who can verify they will be here for 60 days, and they’re not here vacationing,” she said. “This is somebody who is a part of our community.”

County Manager Scott Vargo said the goal is to avoid “vaccine tourism.”

“What we’re trying to do is minimize vaccine tourism, where we’ve got folks that are flying in or driving up, whatever it might be, just to take advantage of a wonderful vaccine system that (county) crews have put together here in Summit County,” he said.

With the county’s swift distribution of the vaccine, Wineland said the state will pause its vaccine allocation once the entire 70-plus population is vaccinated. This means that essential workers likely won’t be able to receive the vaccine until March, Wineland said Thursday.

“We will continue to get vaccine until that (70 and older) population is vaccinated,” Wineland said. “If we feel comfortable and confident that we have gotten everybody in those top three tiers, we are going to be put on hold until the rest of the state gets to that point.”

In the meantime, the county is continuing to vaccinate as many people as it can. Brian Bovaird, director of emergency management, said the county was able to administer about 365 vaccines at Thursday’s drive-thru clinic in Frisco. Most of the patients that attended the clinic were in the 70 and older population, he said.

Wineland said the county is on track to administer all of the 800 doses it received at the beginning of the week by the end of the day Sunday, Jan. 10. Next week, the county is expecting to get 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, she said.

At the beginning of the week, the county will announce when more appointments will be available.

At the meeting, Summit County Commissioners Elisabeth Lawrence and Thomas Davidson stressed the importance of people continuing to practice social distancing and mask-wearing while they wait for their second dose of the vaccine.

“I know that the efficacy is very high, but it doesn’t make seniors bulletproof,” Davidson said. “We need to really emphasize to these folks that it doesn’t mean that now you can go out and do whatever.”


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