More booster clinics scheduled in Pitkin County as glitchy process is fine-tuned
Local public health officials also preparing pediatric vaccination clinics on heels of FDA approval for children Tuesday
A technical glitch Monday that led to long waits for COVID-19 booster shots at a clinic at Buttermilk should be fixed in the near future, and any Pitkin County resident who wants a booster will get one, local public health officials said Wednesday.
And while more booster shot clinics are set to take place next week, Pitkin County Public Health Director Jordana Sabella said there’s no hurry for people who are fully vaccinated to receive a booster shot because they are protected now by the vaccine they previously received.
“Walk, don’t run to get a booster,” Sabella said. “We’re thrilled to see the interest in boosters in our community, and we will continue bringing them here until everybody who wants one gets one. But if you can’t get one tomorrow, it will be available.”
Booster shots were available in the Aspen area Thursday through Monday last week at state public health department-sponsored clinics, and for most of that time the process went smoothly, said Carly Senst, vaccine coordinator for Pitkin County Public Health. However, some appointments made for Monday’s clinic at Bumps at Buttermilk did not get entered into the online registration system, so those times were double-booked, she said.
Add to that the presence of people who walked up instead of making appointments, and people ended up having to wait hours for a booster shot, Senst said. Also possibly adding to the confusion were notices from the local public health department that may have given people the wrong impression that Monday was the final opportunity people had to receive a booster shot in Pitkin County, she said.
Monday’s clinic never ran out of vaccine supply, and some people chose to leave and come back at a different time, she said.
“I understand the confusion,” Senst said. “Everyone who chose to stick out this process (Monday) was able to receive (a booster shot).”
Buses from Colorado’s public health department will be back in the Aspen area to distribute booster doses Nov. 2 and 3, though the location and times were not yet available Wednesday, she said. They also will revisit the Old Snowmass Market on Nov. 6 and the Treehouse parking lot in Snowmass Village on Nov. 7.
Pitkin County public health officials had not yet opened any of those dates for scheduled appointments because they hadn’t received confirmation Wednesday from state officials that the technical glitch responsible for Monday’s confusion was fixed, Senst said. As soon as that occurs, those appointments will be available online at covid19.pitkincounty.com.
Boosters also will be available at upcoming area clinics throughout the month of November, Senst said.
“You will get an appointment,” she said.
When appointments become available, Senst urged people to make sure they receive a confirmation email in return after making the appointment. If they do not receive a confirmation email, make another appointment, she said.
Walk-ups will still be available, though Sabella and Senst urged Pitkin County residents to make appointments if possible and limit the number of walk-ups.
Sabella also confirmed Wednesday that people who want a booster can choose the vaccine they prefer, which doesn’t have to be the same as the one they first received.
It appeared Wednesday that the state public health department-sponsored buses will be the only way Pitkin County residents can obtain booster shots in this area.
No appointments were available at City Markets in Aspen, El Jebel or Carbondale, though appointments were available Nov. 2 in Eagle County, according to City Market Pharmacy online. Clark’s Pharmacy also had no appointments available for COVID-19 boosters for the next month, according to the online appointment system.
A manager at Clark’s on Wednesday said he didn’t know why boosters were not available, and a pharmacist was not available to comment.
Sabella said her understanding was that both stores were unable to offer boosters because of staffing issues. She said residents also can ask their doctors for a booster, and that public health officials want to bring online more providers who can administer the boosters because sooner or later the medical community will take over dealing with COVID-19.
Local public health officials also are preparing to administer pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Pitkin County children ages 5 to 11, Senst said.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel recommended a lower-concentrated dose for that age group, though local officials cannot begin scheduling pediatric doses until guidance from the Centers for Disease Control is issued next week, she said.
They are working with schools in Pitkin County and hope to open clinics with pediatric doses around Nov. 12, Senst said. Beginning Nov. 16, state public health department buses with pediatric doses will be available at Aspen Elementary School and Basalt Elementary School, she said.
Those dates will give the department time to order the pediatric doses, Senst said.