Frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was addressed by the governor on Friday and has been reported across the state as those 70 and older aim to get vaccinated.
The latest Mesa County Public Health report shows that just under 4,500 doses have been given out in the five weeks since distribution began. The county is working its way through Phase 1, which includes high-risk health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents first, followed by other health care workers, emergency services personal and people over the age of 70.
Jeff Kuhr, executive director of Mesa County Public Health, said he expected 94% of long-term care facilities and nursing homes to receive their first dosage by the end of January.
As of Friday, he said the county had given about 1,000 vaccines in the 70 and older category, a group Kuhr estimated was more than 30,000 people.
“We want to be at the Grand Junction Convention Center doing 1,600 shots a day, but we’re at the mercy of what the state receives,” Kuhr said. “I do apologize we can’t do it quicker, but I think it has been very efficient with intermingling of groups with the vaccines we have.”
Mesa County resident Kevin Trier signed up his wife, Jaye Sarapata, 75, for the vaccine on Jan. 4, through the Public Health website and said he was growing frustrated by what he felt was not enough communication from the county.
“I’ve gotten nothing back, no confirmation, no email,” he said.
Janice Pierre is in town taking care of her mom, 102 years old, and voiced similar frustrations with the lack of transparency on how the scheduling is working for her mom and others over 70 years old.
Kuhr asked for patience as they continue to work through Phase 1 with a limited number of doses. He said there wasn’t any prioritizing in the 70 and older group and said it was first-come, first-serve with the applications. As of noon on Friday, 15,044 online forms had been submitted through the Mesa County Public Health website.
“Just be patient,” Kuhr said. “You’re not going to hear from us just to check in. We’ll send them a link when the schedule is open that they can go to in order to schedule their appointment.”
The county only schedules a few days in advance as doses are limited and need to be prepared very precisely.
Kuhr said that on Friday they were only scheduled through Tuesday.
Anyone 70 and older or a frontline worker can sign up for the vaccine on the Public Health website or by calling 970-248-6900 and pressing 7.
“We’ve added more staff to the call line and doing our best to get back to people in 24 hours,” Kuhr said.