Montezuma County continues to administer COVID-19 vaccines and is steadily working its way down the Phase 1 distribution list established by the Colorado Department of Public Health, said county public information officer Vicki Shaffer.
“Groups in each phase must be completed in the order listed,” she said.
The Montezuma County Health Department has received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine per week from CDPHE. The allocation is based on county population.
So far, the county health department has vaccinated 300 people, Shaffer said. On Jan. 4, it administered 140 vaccines.
Southwest Memorial Hospital also has received a separate supply to vaccinate staff and local health workers.
The county is handling distribution effectively, according to Thomas McNamara, Southwest Regional Field Manager of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
As of Jan. 3, the five-county area in Southwest Colorado has received 4,250 vaccine doses and vaccinated 3,155 people, a utilization rate of 74%, which is leading the state.
McNamara described Montezuma County as “leader of the leaders” during a meeting this week, Shaffer said.
By comparison, six counties in the San Luis Valley had a combined utilization rate of 36%. Northwest Colorado had a 42% rate, and north-central counties had a 48% rate.
The Phase 1A priority includes vaccinating high-risk health care workers and individuals who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients, and long-term care facility staff and residents.
Southwest Health System has received vaccines to inoculate people in Phase 1A at Southwest Memorial.
The vaccination program for nursing homes is run mainly by the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program in cooperation with drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens, which will provide the shots.
The county health department has received vaccines for people in Phase 1B, which includes two levels. The first is composed of EMS staff, firefighters, police, pandemic response personnel, correctional workers, funeral service workers and people age 70 and older.
Shafer said they have nearly completed vaccinations for the first responder group.
They are now moving on to vaccinations for residents age 70 and some in that category have received their first dose.
Southwest Health System will soon begin administrating COVID-19 vaccine to their patients ages 70 and older as soon as it receives the vaccine.
SHS will be contacting their patients to add them to the vaccination schedule as vaccine supplies allow and will need a current phone number or email address. If you are a patient of Southwest Medical Group and you have not provided that contact information, or you suspect yours is not up to date, please call SHS’s COVID/Vaccine Hotline at 970-564-2201 and follow the instructions so staff can reach you to schedule. People over 70 may also contact a their provider directly.
People who are not a patient with SHS may email the Montezuma County Public Health Department at [email protected] and include their name, date of birth and a good contact phone number. The health department will call back to schedule an appointment. Vaccinations are by appointment only. Walk-ins will not be accepted.
After the 70-and-older vaccinations are complete, health workers will move on to the second level of Phase 1B vaccinations. That group includes workers in education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, U.S. Postal Service, public transit, public health, human services workers and service providers for the homeless. Essential officials from executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government also are in the category, along with essential frontline journalists.
The county health department will hold two vaccine clinics in the next couple of weeks. Times and locations are to be determined. The department will begin administering second doses the week of Jan. 25.
“We are asking for patience from the community. Health workers are working as efficient as they can with vaccine distribution,” Shafer said. “Please realize we have to complete each group before moving on to the next.”
The county health department has received more than 100 emails and calls per day for vaccinations.
It is managing vaccinations and testing programs, while continuing with the services they have always offered.
Residents and staff at the Valley Inn in Mancos received their vaccinations last week through the federal pharmacy partnership with Walgreens. Residents and staff at all other skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities in the county also received vaccinations last week through a collaborative effort between the hospital and health department with assistance from the Cortez Fire Department.
“Montezuma County is one of the first counties in the state to complete vaccinations for this group,” Shaffer said.
The Ute Mountain Health Department has received its own allocation of vaccines through Indian Health Services. Tribal members who wish to be vaccinated should contact the UMUT Health Department directly.