Vaccine rollout continues locally

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    Photo courtesy Angela Wirth
    Medical Assistant Crystal Gillich administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Dennis Mingo during a Pagosa Springs Medical Center vaccine event held at the Ross Aragon Community Center last week.

    By Randi Pierce
    Staff Writer

    Vaccine distribution for Archuleta County residents aged 70 and older continues in Archuleta County, with more than 600 additional doses expected to be administered this week through appointments.

    Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) administered more than 348 vaccine doses during a seven-hour event last week, the organization reported.

    Additionally, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) Director of Communications Claire Ninde reported that the number of providers enrolled to distribute the vaccine is also increasing, though she noted that not all of the enrolled providers have received vaccine doses to administer.

    Those enrolled in Archuleta County currently are PSMC, Pagosa Medical Group (PMG) and City Market, Ninde indicated.

    As of Wednesday, vaccine signup for COVID-19 was not available for Pagosa Springs on City Market’s website, but both PSMC and PMG announced they will receive doses this week that will be administered through appointments.

    Residents age 70 follow health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, and first responders on the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

    “The focus of regional vaccine distribution has been to complete the vaccinations of 1A individuals including high priority healthcare workers and long-term care facility staff and residents,” Ninde wrote in an email Wednesday. 

    Ninde reported that, as of Monday, all long-term care residents had received the first dose of a vaccine, as well as all staff who wanted them, and some providers in the area have been able to provide vaccinations to those 70 and older.

    “We’re thrilled to see such high demand and excitement for the vaccine,” said Dr. Rhonda Webb, PSMC’s CEO. “We wish we could vaccinate everyone, but unfortunately supplies are limited. We’re following CDPHE’s guidelines, vaccinating those at the highest risk first, and want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”

    Webb also reiterated that appointments are required to receive the vaccine, writing in an email, “Vaccinations are by appointment only, with each dose reserved for a specific event attendee.”

    “We’re excited for expanded vaccine distribution to help our communities get back to normal,” said Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH. “In the meantime, we can’t let up on best practices aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, such as wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings and getting tested if you have symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed.”

    I’m 70 or older. How do I get the vaccine?

    With more vaccine doses expected to be delivered in the coming weeks, PSMC and PMG are taking information for community members 70 and older who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

    PSMC:

    To make a reservation with PSMC, persons over 70 who live in Archuleta County should visit https://pagosaspringsmedicalcenter.org/vaccine to complete and submit registration forms. 

    The following information was provided by PSMC.

    Once the forms are received by PSMC, PSMC will add the eligible person to a master reservation list and thereafter PSMC will email that person an appointment time as doses become available.

    Those who are unable to access the form online can call PSMC’s vaccine line at 507-3995 and leave a message with six pieces of information:

    • Full name.

    • Date of birth.

    • County of residence.

    • Phone number.

    • Email address.

    • Which group applies to you.

    PSMC will call those on its list to set up vaccine appointments.

     People scheduled for vaccination must arrive for their appointment on time. Everyone arriving will be screened for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms, will need to sign a consent, receive a vaccination and be observed for a period of time post-vaccination. The entire process typically takes 30 minutes.

    PMG:

    Dr. Amber Reiss-Holt, co-owner of PMG, announced that the facility was approved as a provider earlier this week and had put in an order for doses.

    On Tuesday, she noted that the facility would receive doses Wednesday morning and is scheduling 70-and-older patients in its office.

    She noted Tuesday that the facility will reach out to its patients through phone calls, emails and portal messages to see if they would like the vaccine if they haven’t been able to get it yet.

    Anyone wishing to schedule with PMG can text 372-0456.

    I’m in another group. When will it be my turn?

    Vaccine doses continues to be limited.

    Reiss-Holt indicated that planning and community outreach is underway for a potential community point of distribution, though no details are available at this time.

    The next groups designated in Phase 1 include frontline essential workers in education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, the U.S. Postal Service, grocery, human services, state government and others. 

    Phase 2, which is expected to begin in the spring, includes people aged 60-69, people 16-59 with certain health risk factors, and other essential workers. 

    Phase 3 is expected to begin in the summer and will include members for the general public aged 16-59.

    To help collect information for those administering the vaccine as it becomes available, SJBPH has launched a form — available at https://bit.ly/35dzCLw (English) or http://bit.ly/2LvUI0v (Spanish) or through SJBPH’s vaccine page, https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/ — for interested individuals to share their contact details to receive notifications when a vaccine becomes available for the phase they qualify for.

    SJBPH explained that information provided to SJBPH will only be used to generate notifications of COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability. Email updates will likely come from a range of sources other than SJBPH.

    About the vaccines

    So far, two COVID-19 vaccines, created by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use. Both vaccines require two doses, and after the second dose, are around 95 percent effective in protecting against COVID-19, a press release from PSMC explains. 

    PSMC is currently administering the Pfizer vaccine.

    “The FDA has concluded the vaccines do not present a safety concern and clinical trials have not resulted in any serious health complications,” the press release states. “Those who have tested positive for COVID and are within the quarantine period, or who are symptomatic should not receive the vaccine. People who have a history of allergic reactions to any component of the Pfizer vaccine should not be vaccinated.”