COVID-19 vaccinations now available to all Eagle County residents age 16 and older
County health officials: ’There is no more lottery’
For the first time since COVID-19 vaccines became available, Eagle County residents don’t have to win a lottery to get a shot.
“For the first time in this crisis we have more vaccines than we have people eligible who need that vaccine,” announced Eagle County Emergency Management Director Birch Barron in his weekly pandemic update Tuesday. That means all county residents, age 16 and older, can just go to eaglecountycovid.org to sign up for a vaccination appointment.
After working through the various priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, the state opened the process to all residents age 16 and older beginning last week. With that action, there is now a new goal for Eagle County — get to the point where 70% of the eligible population is vaccinated.
“Talk to your friends, talk to your family members and let’s get them all vaccinated,” Barron said. “That’s how we get back to normal.”
As of this week, 88% percent of Eagle County residents age 70 and older have been fully vaccinated and 80% of the county’s residents age 60 to 69 have received at least one dose of vaccine. In total, 49% of the county’s eligible residents have received at least one dose of vaccine.
More than 35,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Eagle County and more than 18,000 county residents are now fully vaccinated.
This week, Eagle County remains in the Level Yellow “concerned” stage of the state’s COVID-19 meter. There were 113 new cases reported over the last week, but Barron also noted there was significant milestone recorded over the past seven days. For the first time since October, there were no county residents hospitalized with COVID-19.
“It’s almost entirely good news today. It’s been a long time since I was able to report that,” Barron said.
Not at the top
As of the past week, Eagle County no longer has the third-highest COVID-19 incidence in the state.
“But we are still a lot higher than where we need to be,” Barron said.
Specifically, the county needs to drop to an incidence rate of less than 100 cases per 100,000 of population before it can qualify for eased restrictions that come with the blue “cautious” level. Right now, the county’s incidence is 212.5 per 100,000.
Barron noted Level Blue restrictions offer expanded business occupancy levels and allow larger outdoor gathering sizes. “We are hopefully getting to a place where we can see our vaccines turn that corner,” he said. “Our goal in the month of March was to keep disease spread level and continue vaccinating the most vulnerable populations. We were able to do that. … We were able to keep it level during this really high volume period and we are seeing it starting to go down now.”
That said, Barron noted pandemic fatigue and false confidence are still issues for disease spread.
“We are also fighting variants and that is really the big story in our area — with Pitkin, Summit, Eagle and Garfield counties experiencing high levels of variants that are highly contagious.”
Barron noted the original COVID-19 virus is much less contagious than new variants, particularly the UK variant that is now popping up in the Colorado High Country.
“With this variant, it doesn’t matter what you do. It feels like pretty much everybody in your household, everybody in an enclosed space with you … they are going to get sick with that new variant if they aren’t vaccinated,” Barron said.
Even as the supply of vaccine expands and more residents are able to book appointments, Barron stressed the continued importance of precautions including social distancing and masks.
Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney noted that the state’s mask order was rescinded in several areas, but Eagle County isn’t one of them.
“For us, we are going to keep wearing our masks and doing what we can to take care of one another,” she said. Promoting vaccination for everyone age 16 and older is also paramount, she added.
“Most of our new graduates could be vaccinated by their graduation day. That would be a good graduation gift for themselves and for the community,” she said.