Local vaccine supply sees massive increase
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After weeks of just a few hundred doses of coveted COVID-19 vaccine trickling in to a handful of Routt County entities, the allocation skyrocketed this week.
“We received a large supply of vaccines this week,” Routt County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Harrington said during Wednesday’s Board of Health meeting.
UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center alone received 1,075 doses, 600 of which were made available to people 70 and older during clinics held Wednesday and Thursday. The local hospital is holding vaccine clinics every day this week with each day separated as either a first-dose or second-dose clinic.
Since last Wednesday, Routt County Public Health received 100 doses to be given as first doses and 200 to be given as second doses, Harrington said. South Routt Medical Center received 100 first doses, and Lyon’s Corner Drug received 100 second doses.
On Friday, South Routt Medical Center will hold a clinic to administer doses to people 70 and older and any remaining first responders or health care workers, according Ken Rogers, the clinic’s district manager.
Northwest Colorado Health received 100 doses transferred from their Craig office to begin using at their Steamboat Springs office Wednesday, in addition to another direct shipment this week of 200 doses that will be used during appointments scheduled for next week, according to Suzi Mariano, the organization’s senior director of marketing and development.
“We have the unique ability to transfer vaccine between our two clinics — Steamboat and Craig — depending on where vaccine is needed, either based on scheduling or lack of vaccine availability,” Mariano said.
She added Northwest Colorado Health will order 100 per week for each clinic, as that is its administration capacity.
“This doesn’t happen by chance,” Harrington said, giving credit to the county commissioners, public health officials and hospital leaders for being forceful advocates in increasing the local vaccine supply.
Right now, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is only vaccinating people who are health care workers, first responders or 70 or older.
State hotline: 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926)
Routt County Public Health Department:
Visit the website and sign up for the community newsletter and fill out the vaccine interest form online at covid19routtcounty.com/vaccine-information or call 970-870-5341
UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center:
Anyone who has a My Health Connection account is automatically in UCHealth’s database and will be contacted. Patients without an account are encouraged to create one if possible. Non-patients also are able to register for the vaccine list by setting up a My Health Connection account at uchealth.org/myhealthconnection.
UCHealth COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline: 720-462-2255
South Routt Medical Center:
Fill out an interest form online at southrouttmedical.com/landing/coronavirus or call 970-736-8118
Northwest Colorado Health:
Fill out an interest form at northwestcoloradohealth.org/what_we_do/covid-19-vaccine-testing.html or call 970-871-7620
“We are very fortunate to have UCHealth in our community,” Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith said. “We don’t have the storage issue as a limiter.”
Last week, the hospital was able to swap vaccine doses and increase the amount with another UCHealth hospital in its northern region due to having ultra-low temperature storage capabilities, according to UCHealth Communications Specialist Lindsey Reznicek.
“The ultra-low freezer allows us to easily store Pfizer vaccine, whereas the storage requirements for the Moderna vaccine are less challenging for other locations,” she explained.
Harrington acknowledged there are still frustrations with the process, but he believed the county had made progress.
“We’ve achieved something this week. … What we are doing in Routt County is being held up as an example around the state for some things,” Harrington said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, not all 300 slots for the hospital’s vaccination clinic Thursday had been filled, according to Smith.
“Vaccinations are by appointment only and are available on Thursday, Feb. 4, only for those who have received a notice through My Health Connection or have received a phone call to schedule an appointment,” Reznicek confirmed. “Notifications are random and ongoing, so we encourage people to check their email and answer their phone.”
In addition to the online option, there is a hotline people can call to be added to the list, but the only way to get an appointment is to be contacted by UCHealth, Reznicek emphasized.
Smith said she had provided more names of people in the 70-and-older age category to the hospital, and her staff had been reaching out to eligible residents.
Total COVID-19 vaccines received to date: 3,600
COVID-19 vaccines received this week: 1,075 doses (975 Pfizer doses and 100 Moderna doses).
Total COVID-19 vaccines administered to date (as of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3): 2,341, including 861 to individuals 70 and older
Harrington also advised people to help make sure their older and less tech savvy friends, neighbors and relatives are signed up on the lists of vaccine providers.
In terms of reporting total vaccinations to date, Routt County Public Health epidemiologist and data manager Nicole Harty said the source of the numbers has changed, and there are some caveats. Previously, the numbers had come directly from the county’s various vaccine providers, but now, they are coming from the state’s database.
They include people whose county of residence on their provided address is Routt County, independent of where they were when they received the vaccine, Harty said. Thus, it may not include Routt County residents who went elsewhere to get vaccines, and it wouldn’t include people who don’t live but work in Routt County — such as staff at The Haven or Casey’s Pond.
If anything, Harrington said, the actual number of vaccinated people living in Routt County could be higher.
Based on the state’s numbers, a total of 2,685 Routt County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 3,898 total doses have been administered, Harty said. That’s roughly 10% of the population, she added.
Smith emphasized that a person needs two doses to be fully vaccinated, and it takes about two weeks after the second dose to have the maximum protection.
In terms of impact on disease prevalence, that likely will not be visible until late February or early March, Smith said.
Smith said if and when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, it will be a “game changer” because it requires only one dose.
At the Oak Creek clinic, Rogers said as long as they have the vaccines available, the plan for next week is to start on the people who fall into the state’s “1B.2” category, which includes people age 65 to 69, pre-K-12 educators and child care workers in licensed child care programs and those involved in continuity of state government.
Last week, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said the 1B.2 group will be eligible to receive the vaccine beginning Monday.
Smith said she has been working with local school districts to put together a list that indicates educators who are interested in the vaccine. That group also includes private schools and early child care workers but not higher education.
Smith requested educators direct their inquiries to their employers, and those in the 65 to 69 age group sign up on the interest lists of the various providers, which at this time include county public health, UCHealth, Northwest Colorado Health and South Routt Medical Center. Lyon’s Drug continues to get its list from public health.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Restaurant Association announced restaurant workers have been added to the 1B.3 category, which is anticipated to start in March and includes frontline essential workers, such as public transit and grocery workers, and people age 16 to 64 with two or more high risk conditions. However, this change does not appear to have been made official by the state as of Wednesday.
Polis has stated it is the state’s goal to have 70% of residents 70 and older vaccinated by the end of February. Smith reported the state is at about 50% of that goal with first doses.
Harrington said the county has vaccinated about 50% of its 70-plus population with one dose at this time.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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More COVID-19 booster shots are getting approved, health officials are saying people can mix or match the brand of these shots, and vaccines for children between 5 and 11 are closer than ever.