Eagle County residents over 75 are next up for vaccine | VailDaily.com

Eagle County residents over 75 are next up for vaccine

Approximately 2,000 county residents have received first dose of vaccine

Eagle County remains in Level Orange of the state’s COVID-19 dial as the number of new cases continues to flatten, albeit at a high level.
Special to the Daily

There was an important shift Tuesday in the weekly COVID-19 report to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners. Instead of focusing on rising incidence or necessary precautions, the report dealt largely with vaccination information.

According to Health Harmon, the county’s director of public health and environment, approximately 2,000 local residents have received their initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Next week, we start second doses,” said Harmon. What’s more, next week will see the vaccination effort grow to people in the county who are age 75 and older.

“This is a fantastic way to end the year. We are looking forward to 2021,”Harmon said.

Until now, the county’s vaccination outreach has focused on front-line health workers, first responders and residents in assisted living facilities. As more vaccine becomes available, Harmon said the county will expand its program to include people at the next highest level of risk.

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“A question we get a lot is ‘If I fit into one of the priority groups, how do I learn about that?’” said Harmon. “I want to acknowledge to everyone that it is still a work in progress.”

Harmon said information will be posted at the county’s website — eaglecountycovid.org — as early as next week. Beyond that, there will be a robust communications effort across many mediums to let people know when they can be vaccinated. He added that Vail Health is currently the sole local entity administering vaccine, but that will expand as more doses become available.

”Our goal is to get the vaccine into the hands of our primary care providers,” he said.

Stay vigilant

While the vaccine news was the primary discussion Tuesday, the commissioners reminded residents that disease levels in the county remain high.

“It looks like it’s leveling off, but where we are now is still higher than last spring’s peak,” noted Commissioner Matt Scherr. “We can’t let our guard down.”

Over the past two weeks, there have been 360 new COVID-19 cases reported in Eagle County. That compares to 410 new two-week cases the week prior and 487 new two-week cases two weeks ago. The county remains in Level Orange of the state’s COVID-19 risk meter.

Local hospitalization levels are in Level Yellow this week, an increase since last week. But Harmon noted that Colorado as a whole has a more stable hospitalization figure than many other parts of the nation.

The big concern in the weeks ahead will be the impact of the holiday season on disease transmission. Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney voiced her hope that Colorado will see a repeat of what happened after Thanksgiving.

“I think it went without a lot of fanfare that Colorado managed not to have a spike over the Thanksgiving holiday,” McQueeney noted. “I am hopeful that message managed to continue though Christmas.”

Harmon also noted another Eagle County success. To date, COVID-19 has not reached one of its biggest congregated living facilities — the county jail. He congratulated the county sheriff’s office on a good job of preventing COVID-19 from entering the facility.

“One the disease gets in (a confined correctional facility) its spreads like wildfire,” Harmon said.

As residents wait for widespread vaccination to become available, Harmon stressed disease prevention remains a vital priority.

“We are only starting the vaccination campaign. Realistically, we have to focus on continuing the five commitments through the spring,” said Harmon.

“We will just keep wearing our masks and washing our hands and staying away from everyone,” said Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry.

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