Ignacio held its first community vaccination clinic Saturday, helping more than 500 La Plata County residents receive their first COVID-19 vaccine doses.
As the state continues its phased vaccination approach, community clinics are popping up around La Plata County to help people access the vaccine. In northeastern La Plata County, Upper Pine River Fire Protection District has administered 887 vaccinations since it launched the county’s first community clinic in early January.
Ignacio, serving southeast La Plata County, is catching up as community members come together to offer protection against COVID-19.
“We had 500 vaccines, and we vaccinated 514 people,” said Dixie Melton, spokeswoman for the Greater Ignacio COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic and medical provider at Ignacio Family Medicine. “We did pretty good.”
The clinic was able to vaccinate more people by drawing precise doses of the vaccine, developed by Moderna, which can leave an extra dose in a vial, Melton said.
The event, held at Ignacio Middle School, went smoothly. Most people completed the process in about 25 minutes. Organizers had a few vials left at the end of the day, but because of inclement weather and the late hour, they declined to call people on the waitlist, she said.
“Everybody pitched in and did what needed to be done,” she said.
Southwest Colorado has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
As of Feb. 11, the region needed to vaccinate 977 people age 70 and older to successfully vaccinate 70% of the population, a statewide benchmark for each demographic. Southwest Colorado, the third-smallest region in Colorado, had made more progress than other regions around the state, the data showed.
Statewide, 723,942 people had received one dose of the vaccine and 321,826 had received both doses of the vaccine as of Tuesday.
In Ignacio, the next clinic is scheduled for March 13 and will provide the second dose of the Moderna vaccine to the people vaccinated Feb. 13.
For the time being, the Los Pinos Fire Protection District is not scheduling appointments for first-dose vaccines. People can still register for notifications through San Juan Basin Public Health.
As early as March 5, vaccine eligibility will expand to front-line essential workers and people ages 16 to 64 with two or more high-risk conditions. Complete eligibility lists are available through the CDPHE.
“We’re aware of that phrase. We would love to do more vaccinations, but how much vaccine can we get?” Melton said. “If we can get the vaccine, our team is willing to offer vaccination clinics down the road as far as we need to.”
Progress in BayfieldTo the north, the Upper Pine fire department continues to vaccinate residents living in its 265-square-mile district.
“Everything has been very smooth and excellent working with the state and local health departments,” said Bruce Evans, fire chief. “The vaccine supply has been steady. We anticipate vaccinating until Labor Day at the direction of San Juan Basin Health.”
As of this week, 100% of Bayfield School District employees had received the first shot of the two-shot vaccination sequence, Evans said.
Within Upper Pine, 100% of employees have received their second shots. About 90% of the U.S. Forest Service fire and aviation crews have received their second shot.
Among community members, 90% of residents age 70 and older have received their second shot, while 30% of those 65 and older have received their first shot, Evans said.
Because some people have already received doses through other vaccine providers, the department set up an emergency call list for people who can come at the last minute to avoid wasting doses.
Residents can be added to the district’s COVID-19 vaccine list if they are older than 65 and live in the 81122 ZIP code. They should send their phone number and address to [email protected]
“It’s what we do: solve problems,” Evans said. “Our firefighters and staff are very proud to be able to do this for our community.”