Eagle County expects to move to next phase of vaccine rollout by end of January
Officials urge residents to keep cases down as health providers get vaccine out
The theme from week’s Eagle County COVID-19 update was down and out — promoting efforts to keep disease numbers down while working to get vaccines out to local residents.
“We are continuing to see very high levels of COVID, but we are seeing a little bit of a turn in the right direction,” said Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron during his weekly report to the board of county commissioners.
In the last two weeks, there have been 533 reported cases of COVID-19 in Eagle County, which has nonetheless managed to remain in Level Orange of the state’s COVID-19 meter. Barron said that recent high case numbers reflect a post-holidays spike that has been reported nationwide. While that number is high, Barron said the most recent data indicates it is beginning to drop.
“That doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because our community is taking it seriously and changing behavior,” he said. “We are still asking people to think very carefully about their out-of-household interactions.”
County public health officials recommend gatherings of no more than two households and 10 people along with observance of the five commitments of containment.
Barron reported that as of this week, approximately 5,300 county residents have received COVID-19 vaccinations. He said Eagle County Public Health and Environment and Vail Health, who are working together on the vaccination effort, are optimistic about their outreach. Barron said that all local residents who are part of group 1A and who are age 70 and older, and who volunteer to receive a shot, will be vaccinated by the end of January. That clears the way to begin vaccinations for residents who fall into the state’s 1B classification.
Barron said the county doesn’t yet know the parameters for the next round of vaccination.
“But we need to be prepared for that and we want to move as fast as the state will allow us,” he said.
In that spirit, the county is asked residents who are age 65 to 69 to register for vaccination at its main portal — eaglecountycovid.org.
Barron also addressed an issue that made national news last week — the federal second-dose stockpile, or rather the lack thereof.
The COVID-19 vaccination process includes two shots. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is scheduled 21 days after the first dose. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is scheduled 28 days after the first dose. Because of this two-shot regime, Barron noted that health professionals nationwide assumed that extra vaccine was held back from allotments that went out to the states. That was not the case.
“It was a little bit of a wet towel on our hopes when we found out we don’t get double the amount of vaccine we were getting,” he said.
But Barron stressed that regular, weekly shipments continue. “What we have seen so far is the vaccine pipeline continues to be relatively steady,” he noted.
He added that Eagle County is aggressively getting the vaccine out to residents. “We don’t sit on any vaccine. We know any vaccine sitting in a refrigerator is not keeping our community safe and protected.”
“People just need to be patient. We are going to get to them,” offered Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney. “We are fortunate to be in Colorado and in Eagle County, where we are just rolling with it and getting people vaccinated.”