Vaccination clinics provide glimpse of things to come

The tools of the trade stand at the ready duringTuesday’s vaccination clinic at the community center Walsenburg.
Photo by Mark Craddock.

Need a shot? Call first —Walk-ins are still not allowed

OUR WORLD — Amid the ever-shifting landscape of a COVID vaccine rollout plagued by uncertain vaccine delivery, changing state priorities for patient eligibility, and a general lag in centralized federal coordination, the scene at Walsenburg’s community center Tuesday provided a glimpse of possible things to come.

It was a full-blown, high-volume vaccination clinic — the first of its kind held locally.

Visitors were greeted at the front door with the now-familiar symptom questionnaire and laser thermometer. Inside, staff from the Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center juggled dozens of clipboards and registration forms. Inside the gym, five long tables were equipped with syringes, cotton, alcohol swabs and bandages, allowing SPRHC and health department nurses to inoculate up to 10 clients at a time.

At the community center in Trinidad, the scene was largely the same.
On the heels of last week’s state delivery of 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, the Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department set up vaccination clinics in Walsenburg and Trinidad, with 500 doses going to each jurisdiction.
The local health department, in coordination with area hospitals and health centers, held clinics in both towns Monday and Tuesday to efficiently vaccinate as many people as possible – still strictly on an appointment-only basis, no walk-ins allowed.
Those who are eligible for a vaccine are still advised to call the local health department or local health facilities, including SPRHC in Walsenburg, and Mt. San Rafael Hospital or Mt. Carmel Wellness Center in Trinidad to schedule an appointment. All are continuing to provide vaccinations above and beyond this week’s two-day clinics, as supplies allow.

Who Gets the Jab? Priorities Change

The local clinics come on the heels of an announcement late last week by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that reshuffled the deck regarding who is currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
Under the previous schema, all persons in the 1A and 1B.1 categories were eligible to receive the vaccine now. That list includes health care workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders and people age 70 and older.
The new state guidelines inject two new sub-categories into the mix.

In the 1B.2 category, people age 65 and older, prekindergarten through 12th grade educators and child care workers in licensed programs, and officials necessary for the continuity of government are eligible to receive vaccine starting Feb. 8, although local health officials are currently starting to vaccinate people in that category.

Category 1B.3, which the state hopes to start vaccinating March 5, includes front-line essential workers, and people age 16-65 with two or more high-risk medical conditions.

The state defines those conditions as: cancer; kidney disease; COPD; diabetes mellitus; Down syndrome; specific heart conditions; obesity; pregnancy; sickle cell disease; solid organ transplant; and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.

The category also includes front-line essential workers in food and agriculture, manufacturing, U.S. Postal Service, public transit and specialized transportation staff, grocery, public health, front-line essential human services workers, faith leaders, direct-care providers for the homeless, and essential front-line journalists.

In a Tuesday news conference, the CDPHE announced that the state’s skilled nursing facilities have completed 100% of first-dose vaccinations and 71% of second-dose vaccinations. The state set a goal of vaccinating 76,000 front-line health care workers and have, so far hit 90% of that goal for both first and second shots.

As for phase 1B.1 recipients, the state has administered 150,300 doses to moderate risk health care workers and 220,963 citizens age 70 and older. The state has set a goal of vaccinating 70% of those over age 70 (393,639 people) in this second wave. In all, the CDPHE said Colorado has vaccinated 366,603 out of approximately 729,000 phase 1B.1 candidates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday morning that Colorado had received a total of 871,875 doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, with 464,938 first doses administered and 132,752 second doses administered.
New Mexico has received 351,050 vaccine doses, the CDC said, with 213,941 receiving the first dose and 60,740 receiving the second dose.

COVID Case Numbers are Down

Locally, case counts in Las Animas and Huerfano counties still reflect a downward trend after an alarming late-2020 surge.
Between Jan. 26 and Feb. 1, the local health department logged six new cases in Huerfano County and 18 in Las Animas County.
As of Feb. 1, Huerfano County had a total case count of 305, with 11 active cases and 18 deaths. Las Animas County had a total case count of 929, with 33 active cases and 11 deaths.

As of Feb. 2, the New Mexico Department of Health reported a total case count of 664 for Colfax County, with 39 deaths.
SPRHC, the site of an outbreak which left 12 residents of its Veterans Community Living Center dead late last year, reported one new positive COVID-19 case in a staff member this week, breaking a three-week streak of all-negative tests.

And the Trinidad Correctional Facility, which continues operating in Phase III protocols on the heels of a November outbreak, reported no active cases this week.