Winter weather in Texas delays vaccine shipments to Routt County
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Winter storms that caused so much havoc in Texas are having effects all the way in Routt County, delaying the receipt of new vaccines for most of the providers in the county — likely until next week.
Brooke Maxwell, public heath nurse for the county, said Friday only UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center received vaccines this week, with other providers in the county left without any new supply.
That delay is anticipated to continue through this week as the backlog of vaccine orders that built up is relieved. The county is currently vaccinating people in the state’s 1B.2 group, which includes people between the ages of 65 and 69, grade school educators and child care workers in licensed programs.
“We’re just kind of plugging away at the groups that are eligible at this point,” Maxwell said. “It does depend on how much vaccine we have in our community as to how quickly we move through these groups.”
About 19% of Routt County residents have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which represents almost 4,800 people. Of those 70 and older, which has been a priority at a state level, 76% of that age demographic have received a first dose of the vaccine and 34% have been fully vaccinated with the second dose.
The county is outpacing the state when it comes to the over-70 group. Gov. Jared Polis said the goal is to get at least 70% of Coloradans older than 70 vaccinated by the end of February. The state has vaccinated about 60% of that group so far and is on pace to meet that deadline.
Residents, one dose – 4,782 – 19% of Routt County population
Residents, two doses – 2,298 – 9%
Residents 70+, one does – 1,975 – 76%
Residents 70+, two doses – 889 – 34%
Residents 65+, one dose – 2,667 – 64%
Residents 65+, two doses – 982 – 24%
Source: Colorado Immunizations Information System.
Note: This data is specific to residents of the county and does not include all vaccinations administered in the county.
Routt County has the 20th highest doses of the vaccine administered per 100,000 people of the 64 counties in Colorado, according to the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. Of the 11 counties in Northwest Colorado, Routt has administered more vaccines per capita than any other county in the region.
Despite the weather-related delays and small vaccine shipments earlier in the year, Routt County has received slightly more than its share of vaccine when looking at population, according to the state dashboard.
Dr. Brian Harrington, Routt County chief medical officer, said recent delays are short-term issues that will even out in the long term.
Routt County Public Health Director Roberta Smith said local public health officials are working with state health officials about the possibility of hosting large vaccination clinics in Routt County if greater quantities of the vaccine were to become available.
Yampa Valley Medical Center has received about 5,300 doses of the vaccine as of Monday morning and has administered about two-thirds of those, according to Lindsey Reznicek, spokesperson for the hospital. The hospital plans to have vaccination clinics every day but Tuesday this week, focusing on educators and those older than 65.
Across the entire UCHealth network, more than 215,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered with more than 140,000 people having received at least one dose, according to a news release Monday. The hospital network has administered almost 20% of all the vaccines in the state.
When looking at people 65 and older in the county, about 64% of them have received first doses of the vaccine and 24% have gotten the second. The state has not set a percentage of the 65-and-older group that must be vaccinated before broadening the next age group.
Gov. Polis has said the states hope to move to the 1B.3 vaccination group sometime in March. This group includes front-line essential workers in grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing, public transportation and even some journalists.
The list of who is in the group is rather broad, and Smith said they are working to get more guidance from the state.
“There are a lot of people again that are essential, but how those are classified as essential has really yet to be determined from (the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment),” Smith said. “We appreciate everyone letting us know they work in a high-risk environment, but we’ll have to look at that compared to what CDPHE is including in those categories.”
Maxwell said the county has reached out to the city of Steamboat Springs to try to collect lists of people in that next vaccine group who are willing to get the vaccine, especially restaurant workers.
“We will reach out to you when we are ready and have a plan and we have vaccine,” Maxwell said.
Potential move to level yellow
The most recent week saw 56 new cases of COVID-19, which is 20 cases below the threshold to enter level yellow on the state’s dial framework, according to the county dashboard that was updated late Sunday. This is the lowest number of new cases in a week this year.
Barring a sudden surge in cases, the county is expected to send a letter to state health officials asking to be moved to level yellow. This would further loosen capacities, with many doubling from 25% to 50%.
The online form set up for local public health departments to submit these letters to CDPHE said these letters are reviewed once a week at noon Tuesdays. Smith said she has not been told that by state health officials and she believes the letter would be considered when it is submitted.
“We haven’t been told you need to get your letter on X date for it to be reviewed on this other date,” Smith said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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