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RBC I Before any vaccines for COVID-19 have been distributed, local residents asked questions about possible negative side effects and safety of the new vaccine during the quarterly Board of Health meeting Tuesday.
Dr. Albert Krueger, Medical Director for Rio Blanco County Board of Health, responded to the questions. “There are no limits to the fears, and there is no limit to people producing information which is not proven,” Krueger said. “We need to return back to business, and right now the best hope is the vaccine.” As the vaccines are distributed there will be extensive monitoring for negative side effects, as occurs with all immunizations.
The county and the two local hospitals are coordinating with Moffat County on a phased plan for vaccine distribution and have “checked all the boxes” on what is described as a lengthy application process. The tiered approach to distribution has been established by the federal government.
In order to achieve “herd immunity,” approximately 70% of Americans need to have antibodies to the virus, whether through infection or immunization.
Statistically, hospitalizations and deaths in Rio Blanco County are consistent with national trends. There have been, as of Wednesday, 240 positive cases in the county and two deaths attributed to COVID-19. Local hospitals are averaging one COVID patient per day, not counting emergency room visits.
“The arrival of the polio vaccine made a huge difference to those folks back in the 1950s,” Krueger said. “Immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella made a huge difference for children, and even the chicken pox. We need to look at science and research and yes, vaccines have adverse effects, but if vaccines have made a huge difference in the public health of our nation and worldwide. Vaccines are a pillar of public health and I very much foresee that the COVID vaccination will bring us back to normal much faster than we can imagine. I’m looking forward to it. I’m tired of COVID. As a healthcare provider I’m tired of it.”
In other Board of Health business, Public Health Director Alice Harvey gave updates on overall immunization rates, WIC participation and the family planning program. Amanda Havens, a student at the Colorado School of Public Health presented her Community Health Assessment project for 2021 that will be presented as a survey. The board also discussed contracting with a Denver firm to improve the presentation of COVID data on the county’s website using the current software.
“The demand from the community is very clear, they want that information and they want it real time,” Harvey said.
Ty Gates’ appointment in January as commissioner will create a vacancy on the Board of Health, and another vacancy is possible. Interested individuals can submit an application through the county’s website at https://rbc.us/490/Board-of-Health.