The Garfield County COVID-19 vaccination program is moving ahead and picking up speed. Two potentially life-saving vaccines are here and, according to Carrie Godes, Garfield County public health specialist, “We are getting more vials of the medication every several weeks with a mix of both the Pfizer and Moderna doses.”
She added that the vaccines are being distributed by the State of Colorado and reported that they seem to be equally effective on variant strains of the virus which are now spreading across the country. Godes described Colorado as being one of the leading states in inoculating the most residents.
Carbondale Firefighter Acting Lieutenant Ryan Allison said after being inoculated, “Being a first responder can be a dangerous job, and we are always looking for ways to make our job safer. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is one way to make my job safer, while protecting myself, my coworkers and my community.”
There are two vaccination sites in Garfield County: Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs and Grand River Health in Rifle. Individuals must be residents of Garfield County to sign-up for vaccination at one of these sites. Godes also confirmed that the county is looking to add more sites which may include Glenwood Medical Associates.
The order of priority for inoculation begins with the 1A group, including the highest-risk health care workers and individuals who have direct contact with COVID patients and long-term care facility staff and residents. The remaining few in this category are now being vaccinated.
Next up is the 1B group for which appointments are being scheduled. This category covers moderate-risk health care workers, people over 70 and responders with less direct contact with COVID patients (e.g. home health, hospice and dental settings, pharmacists, etc.), EMS, firefighters, police, correctional workers, dispatchers and funeral service workers.
Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long explained, “Though we are presently serving those in the 70 and older category, our hospitals are getting a large number of phone calls from people looking to make appointments. We want people to know that vaccinating everyone in this category will take some time and some patience. People who live in Garfield County and fall into this age group will be vaccinated, but it may take several weeks as we wait for enough vaccines to arrive,”
The following 1B groups are not yet being vaccinated: frontline essential workers in education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, postal service, public transit and specialized transportation, grocery, public health, frontline essential human services and direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness. Also in this category are essential officials from executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government and essential frontline journalists.
Garfield County recently released its most current COVID summary. The data shows that Garfield County is averaging 41 COVID cases per day and notes, “This is significantly below the levels seen toward the middle of December, when the county number reached 58.”
Eagle county has had a total of 3780 cases with 14 deaths. The county’s Department of Public Health and Environment is now accepting sign-ups for the vaccine from any residents 70 or older on a rolling basis. Residents may sign up by calling 970-328-9750 or by completing the online vaccine request form at eaglecountycovid.org.
Pitkin county residents should go to pitkincounty.com to register.
As advised by state and federal offices, even if a person has been inoculated, he or she should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands often and remain socially distant from others.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment clarifies that some side effects are possible after receiving the shot. These may include pain and swelling on the arm where the vaccination was given, fever or headaches. People should call their doctors if redness or tenderness increases after 24 hours or the side effects don’t seem to be going away after a few days.