Vaccine distribution guidelines change

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    19 percent of Archuleta County receives first dose

    By Randi Pierce
    Staff Writer

    On Friday, Jan. 29, Gov. Jared Polis announced an amendment to Colorado’s vaccine distribution guidelines, stating that educators and child care workers in licensed programs and those 65-69 years of age will soon be eligible.

    According to the state, providers will be able to begin administering vaccinations for that group, now called Phase 1B.2, on Monday, Feb. 8.

    According to San Juan Basin Public Health’s (SJBPH) Brian Devine, deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response and environmental health director, SJBPH is working to ensure Archuleta County’s eligible school staff and child care workers are all able to be vaccinated on schedule when they become eligible.

    “People should not expect that they will all be vaccinated in one session because it is quite a few people,” he said. “So, the state has told us to basically prepare for a two- to three-week vaccination effort for this population.”

    Polis also announced that the state estimates that close to March 5, Phase 1B.3 — frontline workers and Coloradans ages 16-64 with two or more high-risk conditions — will also be eligible to receive the vaccine. It’s also projected that Coloradans ages 60 and up will be able to start receiving the vaccine around March 5. 

     “But, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in that date,” Polis said Tuesday, noting that while he hopes Colorado will be able to move into 1B.3 sooner than March 5, the state doesn’t know the vaccine quantities it will receive in March.

    According to a Wednesday press release from San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH), almost 6.8 percent of Colorado’s total population has been vaccinated, which is higher than the national average of 6.5 percent.

    As of Tuesday, an estimated 19 percent of Archuleta County’s total population had received its first dose of vaccine, including an estimated 42 percent of the county’s 65 and older population (vaccine and census data is tracked for the age category 65+, though only those above 70 are eligible until Monday), according to SJBPH data.

    Those figures include Phases 1A and 1B.1, which are high- and moderate-risk health care workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders and Coloradans age 70 and older.

    As of Tuesday, Archuleta County had given 2,701 first and second doses, including 1,585 first doses for the 65+ group and 437 second doses to that group.

    Of the 2,701 doses given as of Tuesday, SJBPH data indicates that Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) had done 2,601, Pagosa Medical Group had done 230 and City Market had done 62.

    “They are probably one of the leading vaccine providers in the state relative to their size — their staff size and their budget,” Devine said in thanking PSMC for its effort, adding, “Archuleta County … is certainly, in terms of the total population and the 65-plus population vaccinated, one of the highest counties in the state.”

    PSMC reported in a press release Wednesday it had administered more than 2,694 doses since Dec. 16, 2020.

    PSMC has been holding weekly mass-vaccination events (done through appointments only) and stated it plans to continue doing so as long as there is a supply of the vaccine.

    “We’re prepared to administer 600 to 1,000 doses a week, but that’s possible only if we receive enough vaccine supply,” said Kathee Douglas, PSMC’s chief operating officer and chief nursing officer. “We don’t know how many doses we’ll receive in a given week until a few days before they are shipped, so scheduling vaccinations is a challenge.”

    “Our weekly vaccine events require an enormous amount of advance scheduling and organization so that they run efficiently and safely for everyone. We have nurses, paramedics and administrative staff assuming a significant amount of additional work to assure that vaccines are reaching our community. While it is a real challenge for PSMC, we recognize it is one of the most important things we can do for our community,” said PSMC CEO Dr. Rhonda Webb, adding that SJBPH does not have the staff to administer the vaccine or schedule appointments.

    Archuleta County has four enrolled vaccine providers: Pagosa Springs Medical Center, Pagosa Medical Group, City Market and Walmart.

    SJBPH also suggests that people who have been vaccinated should follow quarantine guidance if they develop COVID-19 symptoms after getting the vaccine because it can take a few weeks to build immunity after vaccination. That means a person could be infected just before or just after vaccination. 

    The agency added that quarantine is not necessary once a person has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and two weeks have passed after the second dose. People who live or work in high-risk congregate settings may still be required to quarantine, even if fully vaccinated.

    If an individual has COVID-19 symptoms after getting the vaccine, or at any time, they should contact their health care provider and get tested, the organization explained in a press release. 

    I’m eligible now. How do I get the vaccine?

    Archuleta County has four enrolled vaccine providers: Pagosa Springs Medical Center, Pagosa Medical Group, City Market and Walmart (Walmart is enrolled directly with the federal government).

    PSMC and PMG are taking information for eligible community members who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

    For more information on vaccines through City Market, visit https://www.citymarket.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated.

    For more information on vaccines through Walmart, visit https://www.walmart.com/cp/1228302.

    PSMC:

    To make a reservation with PSMC, persons 65 and older and child care workers 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:

    PMG will reach out to its eligible 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. 

    To get an appointment, text 372-0456 (preferred), call the same number or email info@pagosamedicalgroup.org. 

    State hotline: 

    Colorado also launched an additional COVID vaccine resource this week: 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).

    That line is available Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

    Answers are available in multiple languages.

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

    Phase 2 of the plan, which is expected to begin in the spring, includes people aged 60-64, 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 of the general public aged 16-59.

    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.