If you are eligible and willing, there’s some encouraging COVID-19 vaccination news this week.
Eagle County expects to receive 4,500 doses of the single dose Janssen vaccine, also known as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in time for Friday and Saturday clinics this week. Here is the extra encouraging part — as of early this week, there were only 2,600 eligible people preregistered to receive vaccinations this week.
“We are strongly encouraging everyone eligible to request an appointment at eaglecountycovid.org as soon as possible,” said Eagle County Communications Director Kris Widlak.
State guidelines issued late last week have expanded eligibility to include:
- Grocery workers
- Agriculture workers
- People age 60 and older
- People age 16 to 59 who have two or more high risk conditions which include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus (types 1 and 2), Down syndrome, specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease, and severe valular/congenital heart disease), obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant, individuals with disabilities who require direct care in their home and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.
The newly eligible populations can receive vaccinations beginning Friday, March 5.
Once someone is registered for vaccination, no further action is required. Vaccine supply is still limited, so if the number of sign-ups exceeds the available amount of vaccine doses, appointments will be issued based on a random drawing among those who are eligible. Those who are selected to receive a vaccination will be contacted using text messaging or the email address they provided to schedule an appointment.
Appointments are required; anyone who shows up at a clinic without an appointment will not receive a vaccine.
During his weekly presentation to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Birch Barron, the county’s emergency management director, said current data indicates that vaccine could be available to the general public as early as April.
“We were thinking it was a big question mark if we could get to all the (currently eligible) groups by summer,” he said. “This just makes me so incredibly happy.”
He noted the large shipment headed to Eagle County this week means that vaccination can take a big step forward over the next seven days. Currently, the county has administered more than 18,600 doses of vaccine. With the new shipment, that number will top 23,000 doses.
“We are looking at somewhere around a fifth of our population, maybe more, being vaccinated,” Barron said.
Hovering in yellow
While the vaccination report for this week is encouraging, Eagle County’s COVID-19 risk level is a bit more precarious. The county remains at Level Yellow on the state’s risk meter, but just barely. To remain in the yellow zone, the county has to have a COVID-19 incidence rate of no more than 300 cases per 100,000 people. The county’s current incidence rate is 296 cases.
“That (being in the yellow phase) has meant so much for many businesses in our community,” Barron said. Remaining in the yellow is a community responsibility, he said.
“It is really important that we focus on being intelligent about our social interactions,” he noted. “But the goal of our COVID precautions are not just to keep to some number down on a graph. It it is to prevent severe disease in our community.”
There were 159 new COVID-19 cases reported in Eagle County over the past week.
Eagle County is preparing for the next round of vaccination eligibility, announced last week by Gov. Jared Polis. Eligibility for the next phase includes people aged 50 years and older, people aged 16 to 49 with one high risk condition, restaurant, manufacturing, mail delivery, public transit, faith leaders, and front-line human service workers, and people employed for the continuity of local government. Pre-registration for this phase will begin in approximately two weeks with vaccinations expected to start in late March.
Those who receive their vaccine are reminded of the importance of continuing to follow the Five commitments of containment for the health and safety of the entire community.
Local information on COVID-19, including the vaccine rollout, is regularly updated at eaglecountycovid.org.