Montrose County adds to vaccine supply, details clinic ops

Vaccine administrators and support staff pose at Friendship Hall, where Montrose County Public Health and its partners are giving vaccines to those eligible. 

Montrose County has received roughly 1,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19, after another shipment early this week, as well as a clinic’s shipment of 100 doses that is being contributed to Public Health for distribution.

Wednesday, the county also received 100 doses for required booster shots, the administration of which is due next week for the first recipients here.

The county’s shipments are dependent on what the state allocates, which in turn depends on what the state receives.

The county has optimistically requested just under 5,400 doses for its next allocation and is waiting to see what it receives, Montrose County Media Relations Manager Katie Yergensen said.

“We can easily administer 5,000 in a given week. Our priority is to provide as many of these vaccines to our community members who are eligible and want them. There’s been a lot of interest,” she said.

“Right now, our top priority is to continue to be a national leader in ensuring vaccines are being rapidly distributed and put into the arms of as many Coloradans as possible,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a Tuesday news conference.

Although Colorado expects about 70,000 vaccine doses every week for this month, that allocation can change based on federal supplies. The state under the federal Operation Warp Speed response to COVID-19 notifies the state how many doses are coming for the next week, however, that notice can be short, sometimes about a day or less.

Polis said that this week, Colorado was allocated 39,870 Pfizer doses and 36,300 Moderna doses. Of the Pfizer vaccine, 23,400 doses are going to long-term care facilities under a federal contract, through the assistance of CVS and Walgreens.

Each vial of the Pfizer vaccine was expected to contain enough for five doses, but most contained enough for six. For Moderna, each vial was expected to contain enough for 10 doses, but most contain enough for 11.

“The challenge is, week by week, we don’t know how many doses we will receive,” Polis said. The priority has always been to make sure no vaccines are just left sitting in storage, he said. “But we need more supply,” the governor added, echoing what Montrose County health officials said last week.

Here, the 1,400 doses received include 900 administered through Montrose Memorial Hospital to frontline medical workers and associated medical facility staff and the remainder through Montrose County Public Health.

Most longer-term care facilities in Montrose are receiving doses through the federal program and pharmacy partners; the number of doses received for this purpose was not immediately available.

As calls grow to release more vaccine supply, the state and county continue administering vaccines in accordance with priority protocols. Most of what the county has received went to those eligible under 1A of the protocols, health care workers in higher-risk environments.

The county began the next tier, 1B, with 80 vaccines administered last week and expects to provide 470 more this week, for 1B-eligible recipients.

1B eligible people include health care workers who don’t have as much direct contact with COVID-19 patients as frontline workers; paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement; funeral service workers; those 70 and older; frontline essential workers in education, food, agriculture, manufacturing; the postal service; public transit; grocery; public health; frontline essential human service workers; those who provide direct care to homeless people; essential officials from the state government and essential frontline journalists.

The county reiterated the importance of pre-registration, despite the most recently reported backlog of 3,000 people waiting in the wings for their shot.

Upon pre-registering (visit montrosecountyjic.com), people are to wait for an email notification for formal registration, which will be sent once the vaccine is available for their eligibility class.

People who do not have internet access and/or an email address can call Montrose County Public Health at 970-252-4545 to inquire about when they will be eligible to pre-register and once they are eligible, they can pre-register by phone as well.

“We have a way to mark them in system and they will be receiving a phone call,” Montrose County Media Relations Manager Katie Yergensen said.

When the vaccine becomes available, it will be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis for those who have registered.

For now, people need to either visit the website or call if they think they are eligible for pre-registration. Yergensen said the county is also working on a targeted awareness campaign through additional parts of 1B as vaccines move forward.

She acknowledged people are eager to know where they stand on the list, as well as the county having received preregistration attempts from people who do not live in Montrose County, or who better qualify for Phase 2, adults with certain higher-risk conditions and those 65 and older.

“We’re going to get to everyone as soon as we can,” she said.

Public Health is set up to administer vaccines at Friendship Hall at the county fairgrounds.

Recipients first go through screeners, who check temperatures and ask specific questions related to COVID-19 exposure, then are directed to registration tables, where there can be a wait. Registration at the site entails more questions and screening.

After, people will wait in a designated area until they are called up for a vaccine. The person administering it will confirm registration information. Then, vaccine recipients wait at a monitoring station, where they may spend as much as 30 minutes being observed for post-vaccine reactions, depending on health history.

Recipients will also receive information cards that indicate when they are due for a booster.

Montrose Memorial Hospital and the Montrose Fire Protection District are assisting at the county vaccine site.

“It’s really a community effort and it’s nice to see our community organizations participating,” Yergensen said. “Our goal is to get to zero (leftover doses) every single week. We would like to exhaust our supply for individuals who live and work in Montrose County.”

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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