Pitkin County begins Phase 1B of vaccinations
1,100 doses coming for county’s seniors, officials say
Another 1,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be ready for distribution next week as Pitkin County begins the first round of Phase 1B vaccinations for permanent residents age 70 and older, according to Aspen Valley Hospital CEO Dave Ressler.
That’s in addition to 100 vaccines already slated for distribution among the 70-plus cohort.
“That is a significant increase,” Ressler said at Thursday’s Pitkin County Board of Health meeting. The update from the state confirming the additional doses is “fantastic news” for the county’s vaccination efforts, he said.
The hospital will work “hand in hand” with Pitkin County Public Health to ensure the doses are “administered expeditiously and safely,” Ressler said.
The county began sending appointment invitations for the first 100 doses to randomly selected individuals in the 70-plus group Thursday, said testing and immunizations specialist Carly Senst.
Phase 1A of community immunization is nearly complete, with 820 vaccines already administered to health care workers, long-term care residents and public safety professionals through Aspen Valley Hospital and Community Health Services, according to a news release.
Officials are currently focusing on permanent senior residents within the county’s 1B category but will expand outreach to second-home owners and long-term renters in the 1B group as more vaccines become available, the release stated.
The random selection process — at least for the first 100 doses — did not take into account any additional factors like preexisting conditions because county health officials felt that was the most “equitable” mode of distribution, Senst said. A team of officials will meet Friday to “hammer out those details” on the allocation of the next 1,000 doses.
Over 1,600 permanent residents in the 70-plus cohort have already preregistered for the vaccine, out of the roughly 2,300 people who fall into that age group in Pitkin County.
(Recently updated census data determined the 2,300-person estimation — more than double the number that Senst told Pitkin County commissioners at a meeting Tuesday. The updated number resolves what was initially thought to be a statistical anomaly in vaccine pre-registrations.)
Invitations to make an appointment will primarily be sent via email; officials are encouraging those who await the notification to check spam and junk mail folders. Those who did not indicate an email on the pre-registration form will be contacted by phone.
More than 5,200 people across all age groups have already filled out the pre-registration form, but it may be weeks or months before everyone on the list receives an appointment invitation.
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A small group of relay participants was walking with a purpose when it passed through Aspen on Tuesday evening for their 3,900-mile journey through the Great Plains and Mountain West.