Vaccine delays have little impact on local efforts

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

Southwest Colorado has been largely unaffected by vaccine delays recent winter weather has caused throughout the country, but vaccine doses continue to be limited.

On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced that winter storms affecting a vaccine distribution hub in Tennessee delayed vaccine shipments to several states this week, including Colorado.

The department stated that the delay impacted Colorado’s allocation of 133,000 vaccines that were expected to arrive from Tuesday through today.

But Brian Devine, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) deputy incident commander for the agency’s COVID-19 response and environmental health director, indicated Wednesday Southwest Colorado has not been affected so far.

Elsewhere in the state, Devine explained, clinics who expected to receive doses were left scrambling to trade doses with other locations to be able to take care of those with appointments.

“Fortunately, here in Southwest Colorado, we were able to solve for a very small number of appointments that were impacted,” he said, and as long as the next shipment arrives as expected, no planned clinics around the region this week and next week should be affected.

In the event there are more impacts from the weather, Devine asked that people be understanding and work with providers if there are difficulties.

“This really is impacting the whole country,” he said.

Devine also warned that doses are still not readily available in the quantities needed.

“Vaccine availability continues to be quite limited,” he said. “The state is getting about 90,000 to 100,000 doses a week.”

Devine noted that amount has been pretty constant and is expected to continue.

Vaccine distribution in Archuleta County continues to be successful, Devine indicated.

“We were able to work with the school districts in both of our counties and independent schools and child care providers to do an accelerated timeline for vaccinations for educators, school support staff and child care staff,” he said. “Pagosa Springs Medical Center did an enormous lift to work with Archuleta School District and some of the independent schools. We also had some participation from Pagosa Medical Group in this effort.”

Devine explained that the state’s plan was to vaccinate school districts and child care providers over three weeks.

“I think we were able to do 70 to 80 percent of … that eligible population in our two counties combined in a single week,” he said, clarifying that is for the first dose and adding that it shows the region is working well together.

He added, “I would bet that Archuleta County especially is probably going to be the fastest county in Colorado to get its school staff and child care staff substantially vaccinated. … It’s a tremendous, tremendous partnership and we’re really, really thankful for everybody who participated in that.”

Devine also noted there are partnerships with senior centers and vaccine providers to help ensure those people who are eligible and want to be vaccinated but who may be uncomfortable with technology or have transportation or access issues are not passed over as new groups of the population become eligible.

“We’re working with our senior centers and a bunch of our vaccine providers in order to resolve those issues and make sure that everybody who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated,” he said. “In Archuleta County, again, our biggest partner is Pagosa Springs Medical Center. They’ve done a ton of help for people who … don’t have great technology skills.”

He noted SJBPH believes that should be a focus of every vaccine provider.

Devine later noted that all doses for long-term care facilities in its service area are complete.

Vaccinations are continuing for Phases 1A, 1B.1 and 1B.2, which include high- and moderate-risk health care workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, Coloradans age 65 and older, and educators and child care workers in licensed child care programs.

I’m eligible now. How do I get the vaccine?

Archuleta County has four enrolled vaccine providers: Pagosa Springs Medical Center, Pagosa Medical Group, City Market and Walmart (Walmart is enrolled directly with the federal government).

PSMC and Pagosa Medical Group are taking information for eligible community members who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information on vaccines through City Market, visit https://www.citymarket.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated.

For more information on vaccines through Walmart, visit https://www.walmart.com/cp/1228302.

PSMC:

To make a reservation with PSMC, persons 65 and older and child care workers who live in Archuleta County should visit https://pagosaspringsmedicalcenter.org/vaccine to complete and submit registration forms. 

The following information was provided by PSMC.

Once the forms are received by PSMC, PSMC will add the eligible person to a master reservation list and thereafter PSMC will email that person an appointment time as doses become available.

Those who are unable to access the form online can call PSMC’s vaccine line at 507-3995 and leave a message with six pieces of information:

• Full name.

• Date of birth.

• County of residence.

• Phone number.

• Email address.

• Which group applies to you.

PSMC will call those on its list to set up vaccine appointments.

 People scheduled for vaccination must arrive for their appointment on time. Everyone arriving will be screened for temperature and COVID-19 symptoms, will need to sign a consent, receive a vaccination and be observed for a period of time post-vaccination. The entire process typically takes 30 minutes.

Pagosa Medical Group:

Pagosa Medical Group will reach out to its eligible patients through phone calls, emails and portal messages to see if they would like the vaccine if they haven’t been able to get it yet. 

To get an appointment, text 372-0456 (preferred), call the same number or email info@pagosamedicalgroup.org. 

State hotline: 

Colorado also launched an additional COVID vaccine resource this week: 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).

That line is available Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Answers are available in multiple languages.

I’m in another group. When will it be my turn?

Recently, Polis noted that the state estimates that close to March 5, Phase 1B.3 — frontline workers and Coloradans ages 16-64 with two or more high-risk conditions — will be eligible to receive the vaccine. It’s also projected that Coloradans ages 60 and up will be able to start receiving the vaccine around March 5. 

Phase 2, which is expected to begin in the spring, includes people aged 60-64, people 16-59 with certain health risk factors, and other essential workers. 

Phase 3 is expected to begin in the summer and will include members of the general public aged 16-59.

SJBPH has launched a form — available at https://bit.ly/35dzCLw (English) or http://bit.ly/2LvUI0v (Spanish) or through SJBPH’s vaccine page, https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/ — for interested individuals to share their contact details to receive notifications when a vaccine becomes available for the phase they qualify for.

SJBPH explained that information provided to SJBPH will only be used to generate notifications of COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability. Email updates will likely come from a range of sources other than SJBPH.

After you’ve been
vaccinated

SJBPH also suggests that people who have been vaccinated should follow quarantine guidance if they develop COVID-19 symptoms after getting the vaccine because it can take a few weeks to build immunity after vaccination. That means a person could be infected just before or just after vaccination. 

The agency added that quarantine is not necessary once a person has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and two weeks have passed after the second dose. People who live or work in high-risk congregate settings may still be required to quarantine, even if fully vaccinated.

If an individual has COVID-19 symptoms after getting the vaccine, or at any time, they should contact their health care provider and get tested, the organization explained in a press release.

This story was posted on February 23, 2021.