By Randi Pierce
On Wednesday, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reported that 50 percent of Archuleta County’s eligible population had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Of that population, comprising those 16 and older, 41 percent are fully vaccinated, meaning they are at least two weeks out from receiving their final vaccine dose.
Now, according to Brian Devine, SJBPH environmental director and deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response, is the time for the lower-risk, younger people to move forward with getting vaccinated.
“It’s time for you,” he said. “Thank you for waiting, and now it’s your turn.”
While acknowledging that demand has slowed a bit, Devine suggested that 70 percent of Americans report plans to get the vaccine, with another portion of the population unsure, but leaning toward receiving one.
Beginning next week, he indicated, in addition to the existing pharmacies and medical clinics providing vaccines, a state contractor will be deployed to the region to administer vaccine doses.
That contractor, he added, will do at least one day per week in Archuleta County “for the foreseeable future.”
Part of what that contractor will do, he explained, is try out different models to see what works for those still seeking the vaccine but whose schedules have not allowed them to receive it yet.
Those models, he indicated, could include clinics after work hours or on weekends.
How do I get the vaccine?
Everyone age 16 and older is now eligible to receive the vaccine in Colorado, though 16- and 17-year olds are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
Devine suggested that individuals interested in receiving the vaccine can sign up for vaccine notifications from SJBPH on its website and can sign up with multiple providers to see where they can get an appointment quickest.
Archuleta County has several enrolled vaccine providers. For information on area vaccine providers, visit https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.
State pauses use of Johnson and Johnson vaccine
On Tuesday, in response to the joint announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and out of an abundance of caution, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Joint Vaccine Task Force alerted providers to temporarily pause use of the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine.
On Tuesday, Dr. Eric France, Colorado’s chief medical officer, suggested that the state will have more information by the end of the day Wednesday after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets, though that information was not available by press time Wednesday.
According to a state press release, “Federal health officials recommended temporarily suspending use of the vaccine after reviewing reports of six individuals in the U.S. who got rare and severe blood clots after receiving the vaccine.”
Devine stated Wednesday that the review is not related to the safety of the vaccine, but is to review the data on a “very small number of adverse reactions” and prepare health care providers to properly diagnose and treat the reaction should it occur.
“The treatment for these types of blood clots is not the common treatment and thus time is needed to make sure healthcare providers know how to recognize and treat these rare occurrences,” the press release explains.
The region has not received a lot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Devine added.
The press release further notes, “Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine more than a month ago are at very low risk of serious side effects. Anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine within the last three weeks and who develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath should contact their health care provider. These symptoms are different from the flu-like symptoms people may experience after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.”