By Chandler Griffin
San Juan Basin Public Health
San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) urges parents to start the COVID-19 vaccine series for their adolescents soon, in anticipation of the 2021-2022 school year.
In La Plata County, 43 percent of adolescents (12-17 years) have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine series, falling shortly behind the Colorado average of 45 percent for 12- to 17-year-olds.
Archuleta County lags further behind the state, with 26 percent of eligible adolescents vaccinated with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccination will be crucial to prevent outbreaks and provide protection during the school year.
“COVID-19 vaccination is the best tool we have at our disposal to protect our students, teachers and families. If you haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated yet, please join the other families who have in protecting in-person learning,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH executive director. “The Delta variant is spreading primarily in the unvaccinated population. This variant appears to be more transmissible and more likely to result in hospitalization than other variants. The unvaccinated population are at especially high risk for contracting the Delta variant of COVID-19; even younger unvaccinated individuals can have a severe illness. Even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously, you should still get the vaccine, which is now convenient and widely available.”
Statewide, the Delta variant is circulating widely. It is now the dominant strain in Colorado, accounting for 90 percent of all random positive COVID-19 tests that are sequenced in the state.
SJBPH emphasizes that the new school year is about six weeks away and time is running out for adolescents to get protection and be fully vaccinated by the first day of school. Twelve- to 17-year-olds are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and the two-dose series takes at least five weeks from the first shot for individuals to complete the series and reach maximum immunity.
This means students in Ignacio must start their vaccine series by Monday, July 26, to have full protection by the start of the school year. Archuleta County youth should be vaccinated by no later than Aug. 3. Bayfield and Durango schools start in less than five weeks, so parents should vaccinate eligible adolescents right away.
SJBPH is closely tracking federal and state guidance that would open eligibility for children under 12 and is prepared, alongside partners, to rapidly vaccinate this population when they become eligible.
There are numerous vaccine providers in La Plata and Archuleta counties, and SJBPH is now offering clinics six days per week in partnership with Jogan Health. Dates and times for upcoming clinics are listed below. The full schedule of vaccine clinics, pop-ups and mobile clinics is available online with convenient dates and times available across both counties.
• Pagosa Springs High School, 800 S. 8th St, Pagosa Springs — Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (until Aug. 5).
• East Side Market and Pagosa Farmers Market, 225 E. Pagosa St., Pagosa Springs (through Aug. 1).
Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• TARA Community Center, 333 Milton Lane, Arboles — Saturday, July 31, 9 a.m. to noon.
Although advance registration is preferred, walk-ins are also welcome at upcoming clinics. The vaccine is free and no ID is required. Additional clinics and information about the COVID vaccine can be found on SJBPH’s website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.