Eagle County prepares for 1,100 shot COVID-19 vaccination clinic Wednesday | VailDaily.com

Eagle County prepares for 1,100 shot COVID-19 vaccination clinic Wednesday

To date, 16,500 residents have been fully vaccinated in Eagle County

Vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine wait to be filled into syringes on Wednesday, March 17, in Vail.
Chris Dillmann/cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Eagle County expects to administer 1,100 COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday, adding to the more than 30,000 total doses also distributed to residents.

During his weekly COVID-19 update for the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, county Emergency Management Director Birch Barron said as of March 19, vaccination eligibility has expanded to a large group of Colorado residents.

“Very soon, I think we will be announcing registration for the general public,” Barron said.

As the pool of residents eligible for vaccination expands, the county also learned it will receive a substantial shipment of vaccine this week. Barron said this week’s allotment is 3,450 doses.

To go with the more than 30,000 total doses in the county, Barron said that approximately 16,500 county residents have been fully immunized. That figure includes 88% of the county’s population that is 70 and older and more than 70% of the county’s residents who are 60 to 60 years old.

High demand

Even though the supply has grown recently, Barron noted there are still more people who want shots than there is available vaccine. He encouraged all residents in the current eligibility group to register online at eaglecountycovid.org or by phone at 970-328-9750.

Barron re-emphasised that the registration system coordinates with Vail Health and works on a lottery basis. That system has been both more equitable and more manageable than the original first-come, first-served system the county tried. But the lottery means some residents will wait longer for shots, even if they registered sooner.

“I would love more predictable. But because we don’t know how much vaccine we will receive, it is impossible to estimate wait times,” Barron said.

“It’s a lottery. Think of it as a win when you name gets called,” responded Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney.

And the luck should be expanding to a bigger group soon, Barron added.

“I think that we have some indications from the state that we should be able to work through this group in three weeks,” Barron said.

If that happens, he noted, vaccinations will be open to the general public by mid April.

Distribution equity

Barron said public health officials continue their work to reach residents who are having trouble navigating the current registration system. Barron noted there are residents who are not technologically savvy, who don’t have transportation to clinic sites or who cannot take off time during the day and it is important to do extra work to reach those populations.

As the ski season nears its end, there is another complication. The county needs to make sure that seasonal workers who receive the first dose of two-dose vaccine will still be in Eagle County when its time for that second shot.

“The last thing we want to do is give someone part of a two-dose shot knowing they probably won’t be here in April,” he said.

Holding the line

Even as vaccination efforts expand, Barron said county residents need to keep up their COVID-19 prevention efforts.

“The really big thing to underline is we aren’t out of the disease woods yet,” he said.

Eagle County remains in the Level Yellow “concerned” zone of the state’s COVID-19 risk meter. There have been 123 new cases reported in the last seven days.

With the move to the yellow level, businesses in Eagle County that competed Five Star certification have been cleared to operate at Level Blue “caution” precautions.

Barron said there are two factors working against the county’s current prevention efforts — new COVID-19 variants and pandemic fatigue. He noted new strains of COVID-19 have popped up in Eagle County at precisely the same time people are exhausted from living during a global pandemic.

“Eagle County is still very far from Level Green. We are still pretty far from Level Blue,” Barron said. There is still a public health order mandating masks and limiting sizes for social gatherings, he added.

“We don’t want to put people at risk at this stage of the pandemic,” Barron concluded. “We want to finish this strong.”

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