EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — In an update from El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) Friday, the county is focused on finishing vaccinating the 1A and 1B phases by the end of February.
The health department expects that the initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be very limited for several months. This means that a vaccine will not be immediately available to everyone who wants one.
According to the El Paso County Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program Manager Lisa Powell, the current number of individuals in the 70 and up category in El Paso County are just around 70,000 people.
“As of January 14th, we now have a seven-day average of 1,469 vaccines administered per day,” said Powell.
To be as fair and efficient with distribution as possible, the state has developed a phased approach to vaccine distribution to save lives and end the crisis that has been brought on by the pandemic as quickly as possible.
Powell added, “El Paso County is currently focused on finishing our 1A and our 1B phases, we have moved very broadly into the 1B phase at this point in time, that included people who are over 70 years old as well as our healthcare workers and emergency medical services and out first responders such as law enforcement and so we are working through that.”
According to EPCPH, as of Friday morning, 25,208 doses have been administered in El Paso County. Of that, 5,486 of those were people who received their second dose, completing the full series of both the first and second doses of the vaccine.
El Paso County Public Health started working on vaccination planning efforts back in May of 2020 and is currently reporting they do not have any stored or wasted vaccines. Stating the health department is working with their health providers to increase the bandwidth and position citizens to receive vaccines as soon as they are available.
“El Paso County’s strategy has continued to involve working very closely, really for months, working with community partners to help us get as many providers as possible signed up to be able to get the vaccine in our community,” Powell said. “More directly, this will help us to spread out our distribution process and connect people directly with the vaccine.”
But that is only if you are apart of either the 1A or 1B group.
“The Governor was very clear with us in a subsequent conversation that while he would like us to get to 65, the current goal is still that we would be vaccinating 70 plus individuals and he would like for us to get 70 percent of the 70 plus-year-olds completed by February 28th and along with that complete all of the first responders that will take place prior to starting anyone that is 65 or older,” Powell said.
EPCPH is also working with providers to get hotline numbers so the vaccination process can become easier for those not as tech savvy as others.
In a news release released by the health department, most providers do not yet have a phone system in place to handle the heavy call volume. In the meantime, many are placing people on a notification list or scheduling an appointment.
People don’t have to be a patient of the organization to sign up for the vaccine but may need to register as a patient first.
Among their current providers, EPCPH is working with UCHealth, Centura Health, Kaiser Permanente, Peak Vista Community Health Centers, Matthews-Vu Medical Group, Optum, and Mountain View Medical Group.
For more information on statewide providers for people 70 and older, visit the Colorado
Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.
To learn more about local efforts and providers, visit El Paso County Public Health’s website.