Romer: It’s time to roll up our sleeves
On May 27, Eagle County plans to rescind COVID-19 public health orders and our local Disaster Emergency Declaration. State, federal, municipal, and private business policies may remain in place. It’s been a long journey to get to this point, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves to get vaccinated in order to reach the finish line.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people get a COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible. Everyone 16 and older in the U.S. became eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine on April 19.
Why get the vaccine? In a nutshell, because it is critical to the easing of restrictions — and the return of “normal.” Getting a vaccine is one more tool you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones. Once you’ve been vaccinated, you have the upper hand against the virus, because it means that even if you are exposed, the vaccine helps keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do so is the best way to ensure the health of our community, the stability of our schools, and the success of our local businesses. Let’s finish strong.
Vaccination isn’t just for you — it’s to make the community safe for the people you care about. Protect your friends, family, and loved ones. We’re in a race against the new variants — and time matters. There is a short window of time to pinpoint who else might have the virus before they could lose their health and impact our recovery.
We’re doing really well in Eagle County — 87% of Eagle County residents 50 and older have received at least one vaccination and 56% of all Eagle County residents have received at least one vaccination (this includes kids and others who are not eligible for the vaccine).
We should be proud that Eagle County has the fourth-highest vaccination rate in the state. Locally, we are even seeing strong vaccine adoption in 16-18 year olds; however, 20-30 year olds are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as older (and younger) age groups.
There are likely many reasons for this, but the fact remains that despite momentum on vaccinations, hospitalizations for COVID-19 are going up statewide. Eagle County has seen a small uptick in hospitalizations, and hospitalized residents are skewing younger – toward the demographic that is lagging behind in getting the vaccine.
New cases, severe disease, and hospitalizations in Eagle County are almost always among individuals who are eligible for the vaccine but have not yet been fully vaccinated. We are seeing a few breakthrough cases among people who have been vaccinated, but symptoms are typically very mild.
Vaccines are an empowering tool to help with our continued resilience and recovery — this is not an ultimatum or a doctorial mandate, but rather a powerful tool to wield against the virus and to assist in recovery. Vaccination is an extension of the things we’ve been doing for over a year and remains the path forward to ensure a strong summer season and continued economic growth.
Getting “back to normal” is going to take all of our tools. We’re clearly on the path, and we stand the best chance of getting our families, communities, schools, and workplaces back to normal sooner by using all our tools including vaccination. Building defenses against COVID-19 in our community is a team effort and you are a key part of that defense. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine adds one more layer of protection for you, your coworkers, patients, and family.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.