Formula: Pitkin County’s smaller population means fewer vaccines
Local officials await more doses from state; 3,500 Pitkin residents have pre-registered for inoculations
Pitkin County officials last week asked for 1,800 more doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines, but the state so far has confirmed just 200 in the second round of distribution, a county spokeswoman said Monday.
The exact state formula for distribution remains unclear, though it is based on a county’s U.S. Census population data, said Tracy Trulove with Pitkin County. That explains why surrounding counties including Eagle and Garfield have received more doses, she said.
“We recognize how eager people are for the vaccine,” she said Monday. “(Pitkin County Public Health) and Aspen Valley Hospital’s team are working together, so we are prepared for increased supply. We are responding as best we can based on the supply we get.”
Trulove said she asked state officials for the exact formula Monday but had not received it.
As of Monday, the county had yet to complete the 1A phase of the vaccinations, which includes health care workers with prolonged exposure to COVID-19 patients and residents and staff at the county’s one long-term care facility, Trulove said. Despite that, officials started the 1B phase and began vaccinating emergency first-responders as well, she said.
A total of 820 Pitkin County residents had been vaccinated as of Monday, with 540 occurring at Aspen Valley Hospital and 280 at Community Health Services, Trulove said.
Gov. Jared Polis tweaked the vaccine distribution schedule last week and included Colorado residents 70 and older and other front-line workers. Pitkin County has not yet begun inoculating those new additions, Trulove said.
Meanwhile, more than 3,500 residents already have pre-registered to receive the vaccine on Pitkin County’s website since Thursday, she said. Residents included in the 1B phase are being encouraged to register so the county can communicate directly with people when more vaccine becomes available.
For more information on who is eligible in what phase and how to register, go to covid.19.pitkincounty.com and follow the prompts to the vaccine information.
“We’re trying to focus on Phase 1, so that’s who we’re encouraging to register,” Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock told commissioners Monday during a work session.
Pitkin County, like other rural/resort communities, is at a disadvantage because the state looks at U.S. Census population figures when distributing the vaccine and not the far larger number of people in Aspen during this time of year, he said.
However, local public health officials are pushing out the vaccine as soon as they receive it, Peacock said.
AVH is beginning the second round of vaccination shots this week for those who received their first vaccination last month, he said.
The state, however, is looking to expand the number of providers in the state, though the county is currently receives little notice before vaccines are delivered. As vaccine production ramps up, Peacock said he thinks it will become more available.
“But we’re still at the front end of the vaccination (process),” he said. “It will take time for those companies to scale up. Right now, people need to remain cautious and they need to remain patient.”
Especially since the number of COVID-19 cases in Pitkin County continues to increase unabated.
Because of a backlog of cases that built up at labs over Christmas, the county reported 114 new cases Saturday, according to epidemiological data. That pushed the local incidence rate — based on a standard population of 100,000 — to jump to 1,852 Saturday, 1,875 Sunday and 1,785 Monday. Anything more than 350 is considered above Red level restriction thresholds.
Pitkin County’s incidence rate Monday was the second highest in the state, behind only Bent County’s rate of 3,501, according to Colorado’s COVID-19 Dial.
The rising number of cases here also pushed the positivity rate to 12.1% on Monday, according to the local data. If it hits 15%, the state will move Pitkin County to Red level restrictions. Monday’s hospitalization rate remained comfortable, with all four ICU beds still available.
Pitkin County’s Board of Health will meet Thursday at 1 p.m. to discuss the current COVID-19 situation and restrictions.
“This is trending in the wrong direction,” Peacock said Monday.
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