By JEFF KUHR
Now that we have COVID-19 vaccines in Mesa County, many are wondering about the process for distribution. The vaccines are currently being administered at local hospitals, long-term care facilities, and at Mesa County Public Health (MCPH). Here are some facts about the current efforts:
■ On Dec. 14, 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Mesa County.
■ On Dec. 22, 3,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Mesa County.
■ To date, Mesa County has received a total of 6,925 doses, which includes 975 second doses.
■ Mesa County has administered 3,822 doses to date.
A lot of people ask why we are moving so slow with vaccine administration. While it seems as if we have several doses on hand, there are two key factors to consider:
■ Pfizer and Moderna are two-dose vaccines so we have to reserve supply to provide a second dose to individuals.
■ Local hospitals have appointments booked for COVID-19 vaccination that are not yet reflected in the number of vaccines administered.
Vaccination for Phase 1A is underway:
Approximately 7,000 individuals who are high-risk health care workers and high-risk individuals are included in the Phase 1A category.
■ Local hospitals and Mesa County Public Health are the designated providers for vaccine administration to individuals in Phase 1A.
■ Local hospitals have given first doses to their employees in Phase 1A and are offering the vaccine to outpatient clinics.
■ On Jan. 6, vaccination started for staff and residents of long-term care facilities. These are occurring through a federal contract between the CDC, Walgreens, and CVS. This effort is known as the Pharmacy Partnership Program.
■ Our community goal is to have the majority of health care workers in Phase 1A receive their first dose by the end of January.
Limited vaccination for Phase 1B is underway:
Approximately 17,000 individuals who are moderate-risk health care workers, individuals 70 years and older, first responders, and essential workers are included in Phase 1B.
■ On Dec. 30, Mesa County Public Health opened a vaccination clinic with the capacity to serve 2,000 people per week. Registration is through an online portal exclusive for organizations in Phase 1A and 1B.
■ On Dec. 31, Mesa County Public Health published a vaccine interest form for individuals who are 70 years and older. We will notify those individuals via email or telephone to set up an appointment once the vaccine is available.
■ Mesa County will move to additional categories under Phase 1B once we receive more vaccine doses.
■ Local hospitals will continue to assist in this effort to vaccinate groups 1A and 1B.
■ By the end of January, or sooner depending on vaccine supply, Mesa County Public Health will open our mass vaccination Point of Dispensing (POD) location at Grand Junction Convention Center. Depending on vaccine availability, this location will allow us to administer an average of 1,600 doses per day with the ability to increase capacity as needed.
■ Our community goal is to have the majority of first responders and individuals 70 years and older vaccinated by the end of February.
■ In March, we hope to start vaccinating frontline essential workers in education, manufacturing, postal services, and transportation among others.
Vaccination for Phase 2 is set to begin in the Spring:
■ Thirty-five independent practices have registered to be vaccine providers. Once Phase 2 opens, those providers can order vaccine from the state and administer vaccines to Mesa County residents.
As vaccine supplies increase, MCPH will work alongside our health care and hospital partners to ensure we are able to administer the vaccine to everyone who wants it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Colorado’s statewide vaccine allocation was 36,000 last week, 46,000 this week, and expected to be 66,000 doses next week. Right now, supply remains limited. Our timeline is dependent on receiving a steady supply of doses. We’re prepared to quickly administer the vaccine as we receive it, regardless of allocation size. While preparing for your turn to be vaccinated, please continue to wear a mask over your nose and mouth, stay six feet from others, avoid crowds, and wash your hands.
To see a summary of Mesa County’s vaccination plan, and to follow our progress, be sure to visit the Mesa County Public Health website at health.mesacounty.us.
Jeff Kuhr, Ph.D., is executive director of Mesa County Public Health.