El Paso County urges patience amid slow vaccine distribution


COLORADO SPRINGS — The effort to vaccinate the most at-risk people in El Paso County against COVID-19 is off to a slow start, similar to the rest of the United States.

El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) Vaccine Dashboard reports just over 32,000 people vaccinated over the first halves of phase one, dedicated to health care workers, assisted-living facilities, and people over the age of 70.

EPCPH estimates there are 26,000 health care workers and 65,000 people over the age of 70 in the area to vaccinate before moving on to other phases.

“Truly, there’s just not enough vaccine for all the people who would like to get vaccinated at this point in time,” said Lisa Powell. “Patience is what we’re hoping for.”

Powell is the emergency preparedness and response program manager for EPCPH and supply is one of three main challenges she says she’s seen so far in the vaccine’s rollout. Second, on the list is inconsistent supply. Neither EPCPH nor the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is sure how many vaccines they will receive in a given week.

“They’re struggling to know week to week how much they are getting. Our providers order vaccines and sometimes they will get the full allocation that they ordered, other times they won’t so it’s just been very hit and miss,” Powell said.

The third problem is communication amongst seniors and people over 70 years old. Powell acknowledges that the website and computer-based signup methods can be challenging, so she said they are working on changing the website to be more user-friendly and creating a phone number for a hotline, once there are enough people to take the calls.

There are also instances where people have gotten vaccinations outside of the 1A and 1B group, like teachers who had been scheduled prior to the change in priority. In other instances, Powell said it’s in an effort to not waste any vaccine.

“We have a waiting list of people who are willing to be available on short notice to receive a vaccine if someone didn’t show up for an appointment or if there is spare vaccine at the end of the day,” she explained.

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