Walk-in vaccine clinics start today for 1B tier

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RBC | Changes made to the state’s vaccination roll-out plan last Wednesday that added additional groups of people to Tier 1B have created new opportunities for vaccination distribution.

“Supply chains have been able to get allocations out sooner than expected,” said RBC Public Health Director Alice Harvey. “We have 300 doses coming this week.”

The first vaccinations in RBC took place last week at both county hospitals and assisted living centers and vaccinations continue for individuals in the Tier 1A group this week. Beginning Thursday, the county will start vaccinations for individuals in Tier 1B, which now includes people over 70 years of age, moderate-risk health care workers, first responders, frontline essential workers, and essential officials in state government (see ad on Page 2A for details).

RBC Public Health has been making plans to hold drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and tested their plans with flu shot clinics in the fall, with very successful turnout from the public. The changes coming from the state have prompted Public Health to schedule walk-in vaccination clinics in Meeker and Rangely beginning today, Jan. 7 and continuing weekly. Drive-thru clinics are scheduled to begin Jan. 18.

“A large percentage of our population falls into the essential workers category,” Harvey said.

No appointment is required for the first come, first serve walk-in clinics, which will be held at the Fairfield Center (200 Main St.) in Meeker from 2-6 p.m. and at the Rangely Fire House Training Hall (2121 E Main St.). Vaccinations will be available until the supply on hand runs out.

“We expect the demand to be very high these first couple of weeks. My expectation is we’ll be vaccinating our 1A individuals faster than the rest of the state,” Harvey said.

There will be separate entrances for high risk clients, and maximum capacity limits inside to ensure safe distancing. Still, those in the 1B category who are concerned about risk factors can wait for the drive-thru clinics or contact their primary health care provider.

There’s no charge for the COVID-19 vaccine. Recipients will be asked to remain on site briefly to monitor for severe side effects, and will be instructed how to report any subsequent side effects. No serious side effects have occurred at the county level thus far, which Harvey said is encouraging.

Vaccination will not put an immediate end to public health recommendations for masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing, among other guidelines.

“Like every other vaccine it takes time for your body to develop those antibodies, or you could have been infected prior to receiving it [and therefore be contagious]. All of those public health recommendations will still stand. Once we have a good portion of the population vaccinated, we’ll then be able to start talking about how those recommendations will be lifted,” Harvey said.

For additional information and facts about the vaccine, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine.

For those who’ve already had COVID-19

If you’re one of the almost 300 RBC residents to have had COVID-19 and are at least 14 days recovered and symptom-free, you are still encouraged to be vaccinated, as antibody levels in people who have contracted COVID vary following recovery, Harvey said. “The vaccine is showing that it is very effective, 95% coverage for immunity.”

Recovered individuals who qualify may be eligible to donate blood plasma through St. Mary’s Hospital for the development of monoclonal antibody treatments that could save lives of those who are critically ill.

To donate you must have had a positive test for COVID-19 (a copy of the positive test results required), have been recovered for 14 days, and qualify for blood donation. Call 970-298-2555 for more information.

While a few new positive cases have been added this week, there’s not been a dramatic uptick like there was after Thanksgiving. Harvey said she anticipates a reassessment from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to happen this week. As of press time, the county is still in Level Orange on the state’s COVID-19 dial framework.

A discrepancy in the number of local COVID deaths — listed at two by the county and three by the state — is the result of an error in reporting by the state. “An individual was added who was determined that it was not a COVID-related death, but was among COVID cases,” Harvey said, adding that she is working with the state to get that corrected.

Harvey said the county’s website is the best place to look for the most up-to-date information on COVID counts and statistics. Businesses and organizations can also complete a vaccine interest form there.

The county is also updating its COVID-19 hotline number where people can call in for information: (970) 878-7121.

By NIKI TURNER – editor@ht1885.com