Pitkin County’s 70-older age group shows up big in vaccine registrations
Officials say more than 1,600 sign up, larger than what they expected per Census data
Vaccinations for Pitkin County residents 70 years old and older will begin this week, though a curious statistical anomaly has crept into the equation, an official said Tuesday.
According to the most recent U.S. Census data, Pitkin County has about 1,000 permanent residents who are 70 years old and older, said Carlin Senst, the county’s COVID testing and vaccination coordinator. However, more than 1,600 residents in that age bracket have already pre-registered on Pitkin County’s website to be inoculated.
“Clearly we have quite a few more (people that age) in Pitkin County at this time,” Senst told county commissioners Tuesday at their regular weekly work session.
Public health officials don’t know if the additional people are long-term renters or second homeowners or what, she said, but they will be treated as part of the community and vaccinated.
However, for the county’s first 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine allocated to begin inoculating that age group this week, public health officials are asking that recipients be full-time Pitkin County residents, Senst said.
The effort to vaccinate all Colorado residents 70 years old and older must be completed statewide before any county moves on to vaccinating front-line workers in, for example, grocery stores or schools, she said. Public health officials have been expressly forbidden from moving on to front-line workers until all residents in that age bracket are inoculated.
That likely means Pitkin County, with a smaller population, will continue to receive the vaccine in dribs and drabs as part of the statewide plan, Senst said. They asked for 1,800 doses this week but only received 200. However, public health officials here are working with the state to try to tweak the amount of vaccine received locally to better reflect high season population numbers, she said.
In an update of figures released Monday by public health officials, Senst also said the Phase 1A portion of Pitkin County’s vaccination campaign, including front-line COVID health care workers and long-term care residents and staff, is complete. That group also has begun receiving the second vaccine dose, meaning the county’s main COVID-19 health care workers are almost completely vaccinated.
The vaccination of public safety officials in Phase 1B is almost complete, Senst said.
Once the vaccination effort shifts to front-line employees, public health has an agreement with the Aspen School District to create a vaccination clinic at the district campus, she said, “to hit that group right off the bat.”
The group also includes those who work in public transportation, at grocery stores and other “essential human service workers,” according to state guidelines. Essential officials from all three branches of state government and front-line journalists also are included in Phase 1B, which is expected to last through the winter.
People who want to pre-register to receive the vaccine can go to Pitkin County’s website, click on the “COVID” button, then click the “Vaccine Information” button. Residents who are not necessarily in line for the next phase of vaccinations can still register, Senst said.
Phase 2 of the vaccination campaign is set to begin this spring, when residents between the ages of 60 and 69 and people with chronic health conditions particularly susceptible to COVID-19 will be on deck for a shot in the arm. The general public ages 18 to 59 likely will be vaccinated this summer, according to the state’s schedule.
Like testing, vaccines will gradually become more available locally, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.
“It was always out anticipation that it would take time to scale up (vaccine production),” he said. “We do not have any vaccine sitting on the shelves.”
Once that happens, some counties will go the route of having primary physicians enter into an agreement with the state to administer the vaccines, Senst said. Here in Pitkin County, however, that is unlikely to be the case.
That’s because state public health officials and some local doctors have encouraged the county to set up a larger-scale clinic for mass inoculations, she said. Such a facility is more efficient for communities like Aspen and Pitkin County because all the vaccine the county receives can be routed through the clinic and dispensed, Senst said.
Commissioner George Newman asked Senst if she’s had any communication with or heard any information about vaccinations from anyone associated with the incoming Biden administration.
“I wish I could say yes,” she said.
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