Governor announces new COVID-19 vaccine eligibility guidelines

    0

    By Randi Pierce
    Staff Writer

    Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday, Feb. 26, that Colorado has amended its vaccine eligibility groups based on anticipated vaccine supply, with the newly defined group 1B.3 eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning tomorrow, March 5.

    That eligibility group includes people age 60 and older; frontline essential workers in food and agriculture including grocery workers, meatpacking workers and agricultural processing workers; and people age 16-64 with two or more high-risk conditions.

    Those high-risk conditions include: people receiving treatment for cancer or who have received treatment in the past month; chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; diabetes; Down syndrome; heart conditions, like heart failure, cardiomyopathies, or coronary heart disease; obesity (BMI greater than 30); pregnancy; sickle cell disease; organ transplant recipients; people with disabilities that require direct care at home; and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask.

    Then, on the heels of Polis’ announcement, Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot Janssen vaccine receiving emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Feb. 27.

    And the new vaccine is already being added to the mix locally, with Pagosa Medical Group and San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) announcing Wednesday they have received doses of the Janssen vaccine.

    Those who are currently eligible can call or text Pagosa Medical Group at 372-0456 to make an appointment.

    SJBPH’s Brian Devine, deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response, indicated SJBPH anticipates doing a vaccine event in Durango on Friday and in Pagosa Springs this weekend.

    Specifics for that event were not available by press time Wednesday, but Devine suggested that those who are eligible contact their medical provider first to see if their provider is enrolled and has available appointments.

    “That’s the best situation,” Devine said, noting that SJBPH will be reaching out to medical providers for lists of eligible individuals.

    If a person is eligible but does not have a provider, appointments can be made directly online with a self-affirmation form.

    More information about that event is expected to be posted at www.sjbpublichealth.org and www.pagosasun.com when available.

    “We’re really excited to have it here,” Devine said, noting SJBPH received a relatively large portion — 4,000 of Colorado’s 45,500 doses — of the state’s allocation of the vaccine, which will help vaccinate about 10 percent of the remaining eligible population.

    Devine also noted there are reasons those with two or more high-risk medical conditions are being prioritized and that prioritizing that group saves lives.

    He added it’s important for people to represent themselves accurately for eligibility.

    More about the vaccines

    According to the state, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both mRNA vaccines, while the Janssen vaccine is a modified adenovirus vaccine, which means it uses a different delivery system to train the immune system to fight COVID-19. Modified adenovirus DNA vaccines, like the Janssen vaccine, use a piece of double-stranded DNA to teach your body how to fight COVID-19. mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, use single-stranded mRNA. 

    “We are thrilled to be able to distribute a third safe and effective vaccine in the state of Colorado,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department Public Health Environment. “The authorization of the Janssen vaccine will make it easier for the state to reach its vaccination goals as more people become eligible in the weeks to come. When it’s your turn to get a vaccine -— whether it’s Moderna, Pfizer, or Janssen — I hope you choose to get it. With every dose administered, we are all safer and closer to ending this crisis.”

    “None of the currently authorized vaccines is currently recommended over any other. All three vaccines are safe and work well to prevent moderate to severe COVID-19 disease,” the state’s press release notes.

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

    In addition to 1B.3, vaccinations are also continuing for Phases 1A, 1B.1 and 1B.2, which include high- and moderate-risk health care workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, Coloradans age 65 and older, and educators and child care workers in licensed child care programs.

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

    PSMC and Pagosa Medical Group 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, eligible people 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.

    Pagosa Medical Group:

    Pagosa Medical Group 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.

    When will it be my turn?

    On Friday, Polis announced a new phase, 1B.4, will include people age 50 and older; student-facing higher education faculty and staff; frontline essential workers in food/restaurant services, manufacturing, the U.S. Postal Service, public transit and specialized transportation, public health and human services; faith leaders; frontline essential direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness; frontline essential journalists; continuity of local government; continuation of operations for state government; adults who received a placebo during a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial; and people 16-49 with one of the listed higher-risk conditions.

    Polis indicated that Phase 2 is expected to include the general population, though there may be stages based on age depending upon vaccine eligibility.

    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 about the progress of vaccine distribution.

    After you’ve been
    vaccinated

    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.