Would you get vaccinated for $100? Participants can Monday and Tuesday in Avon, Edwards | VailDaily.com

Would you get vaccinated for $100? Participants can Monday and Tuesday in Avon, Edwards

MIRA Bus, a traveling RV for public health services, is working to close the vaccination gap with incentives and back-to-school vaccine clinics

Vail Health nurse Kacy Geary draws a vaccine dose into a syringe at a clinic at Homestake Peak Middle School on Friday afternoon.
Kelli Duncan/kduncan@vaildaily.com

The MIRA Bus, an RV that travels Eagle County offering public health resources, is pulling out all the stops to up Eagle County’s vaccination rate as kids head back to school and local cases rise.

This week, MIRA partnered with Vail Health to offer vaccinations at two back-to-school events at local middle schools, focusing their efforts on the newest group to become eligible for the vaccine: 12- to 15-year-olds.

“There were people who were lined up at Vail Health, at the hospital, when the vaccine first became available but now, the challenge is to bring the vaccine to the people who didn’t line up, who either couldn’t get there or who weren’t eligible because of their age at the time,” said Laura Malehorn, the adviser with MIRA who coordinated the clinics.

Starting Monday, the program will up the ante with $100 Walmart gift cards for anyone who wants to get vaccinated in back-to-back clinics from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, MIRA program supervisor Virginia Lecea said. Each day, workers will have 95 shots and 95 gift cards to give out.

On Monday, the bus will be at the Eaglebend apartments in Avon, and Tuesday it will park at the Lake Creek apartments in Edwards, but vaccinations are available to anyone age 12 and older regardless of where they live, Lecea said.

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Monday and Tuesday will be the only chance to get the gift cards, but the bus holds clinics every week, she said. MIRA’s full schedule can be found online.

The two agencies have been working together to make the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to underserved communities since the shots first hit Eagle County, and will continue to hold clinics as long as there is a need, Malehorn said.

The bus visited Eagle Valley Middle School in Eagle on Wednesday and Homestake Peak School on Friday with varying levels of success, MIRA staff reported. Staffers gave out four shots at Eagle Valley but administered 13 in the first hour at Homestake Peak for a total of more than 20 shots.

Students and parents walk by the MIRA Bus’s COVID-19 vaccination tent as they head into Homestake Peak School for registration on Friday.
Kelli Duncan/kduncan@vaildaily.com

They offered the Pfizer vaccine to any students interested in getting it, with consent from their parents, and allowed family members to partake as well, Kacy Geary, a Vail Health nurse helping with the vaccinations, said Friday.

Making the vaccine easily accessible to this age group is crucial to increasing the community’s resiliency to the new Delta variant and to keeping kids safe as they head back into classrooms next week, Geary said.

The process was quick and easy, and the shot didn’t hurt one bit, said one Homestake Peak student, Max Howard.

“I feel more ready now,” Howard said. On the topic of getting vaccinated he added “you should, and it’s really helpful.”

“He’s the youngest brother so he’s the last in our family to be vaccinated,” Howard’s mother chimed in. “He’s been very anxiously waiting to turn 12 so he could get it, so we’re just happy that now we’re going to go get our locker, get our schedule for seventh grade and feels nice to have the shot done.”

Two participants in Friday’s clinic show off their bandaids after receiving their shots of the COVID-19 vaccine at Homestake Peak School in EagleVail.
Kelli Duncan/kduncan@vaildaily.com

The event preceded an announcement from Eagle County Public Health issuing an indoor mask mandate for county schools with children who are too young to be vaccinated.

The county continues to recommend masks in high schools but stopped short of requiring them “due to the high rates of vaccination among these age groups.”

Making sure eligible kids are vaccinated “keeps them in school, because if it starts spreading again, they’re most likely going to shut down schools again,” Geary said. “School is really important, especially when parents have to work all the time and they need somewhere for their kids to go, and I think that that has really taken a toll on people. So, I think it’s just super important to protect yourself and everyone else.”

As Eagle County moves forward into this new stage of the pandemic, it is important not to get complacent due to the county’s relatively high vaccination rate, Malehorn said.

“The delta variant has changed the reality of what’s going on,” Malehorn said. “The reality is that we are a tourist community, and we have a lot of people passing through, and while we can say we’ve been vaccinated at a very high rate, we don’t know about the people who are coming.”

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