Some residents taking their shot in El Jebel
COVID-19 vaccination clinic held every other Thursday in El Jebel; appointments required
Eagle County’s effort to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in the Roaring Fork Valley is getting high marks from people who successfully navigated the system — but the process hasn’t worked well for all.
The county has established a vaccination clinic at the Eagle County office building adjacent to Crown Mountain Park to serve its constituents in El Jebel, Basalt and surrounding areas. Vaccines are offered every other Thursday.
“It went great. They were very well organized,” said Charles Spickert, a Basalt-area resident who received his first vaccine last week.
Eagle County has administered close to 14,000 vaccines, according to the Colorado’s vaccine data dashboard. That includes vaccines delivered to Eagle County Public Health and Vail Health.
“Eagle County Public Health and Environment clinics in El Jebel have provided approximately 1,100 total doses — 620 first doses and 457 second doses,” Kris Widlak, Eagle County’s director of communications, wrote in an email. “The Thursday clinics have been a bit slower than the ones on the Eagle Valley side, so we definitely want to encourage anyone eligible to sign up to request an appointment at http://www.eaglecountycovid.org.”
She stressed that walk-up vaccines are not offered. Appointments are required.
Spickert said he registered via computer in late January or early February, whenever it was opened to the 65 to 69 years of age category. He said he understood it was a lottery process and he would likely have to wait to be selected.
He was notified by email when his opportunity came up. He registered for an appointment in El Jebel for the Feb. 18 clinic. Spickert said there were options for locations and which type of vaccine.
In addition to the clinic in El Jebel, Eagle County also is offering vaccines at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards and the fairgrounds in Eagle.
Spickert said he didn’t have a problem setting an appointment in El Jebel, which was his preferred choice.
Basalt resident Jacque Whitsitt also said she was notified a few weeks after registering that she was eligible to make an appointment. She selected El Jebel last week.
“It was very, very organized,” she said. “There was no wait to speak of at all.”
The shots are administered inside the county building, with social distancing established and face coverings required. Once people received the vaccine, they are given a sheet of paper that told them what time they can depart. They have to stick around for about 15 minutes to see if they had an adverse reaction. They are auto-registered for a follow-up appointment at the same time in El Jebel four weeks later.
Whitsitt’s advice was to register as soon as your age group or category is eligible.
Missouri Heights resident Michael McVoy registered early in the process, when it was open to those 70 and older. When he was notified of availability, it was for an opening in Vail, he said. He wasn’t willing to devote the two hours of driving each way for the vaccine.
McVoy said he re-registered on the Eagle County website because he wasn’t sure if he was knocked out when he was selected for a shot in Vail. He still hasn’t been selected, even though the process opened up for people younger than him. He ultimately received his first vaccination through Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
McVoy said Eagle County ought to make more vaccines available for residents of the western part of the county in Basalt and El Jebel.
Another Basalt resident, Tim Whitsitt, drove to the Eagle Valley early in the vaccination process to take advantage of an opportunity there. He said he called to make an appointment when Eagle County first made vaccinations available in El Jebel in January.
“Everything filled up within a couple of minutes, the site crashed and you couldn’t get anything done,” Whitsitt said.
He was uncertain of his registration status because of the computer crash, so he called the county public health department the next day. They confirmed he wasn’t selected but called back three or four days later and offered an opening at Battle Mountain. Whitsitt jumped at the opportunity despite the 80-minute, one-way drive. It was worth it at that time, he said, because of the uncertainty of vaccinations overall and in El Jebel.
Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll said there was a “pretty rough” couple of weeks when the vaccination procedures were rolled out, but they have tried to work out the bugs. A person who registers from the Roaring Fork Valley portion of the county is offered the opportunity to get vaccinated at Battle Mountain High School, the fair grounds or El Jebel. However, Eagle Valley residents don’t have the option of getting a vaccine in El Jebel, he said.
The clinics are held weekly in the Eagle Valley and every other week at El Jebel, depending on the availability of the vaccine, Shroll noted. Patience will still be required for the foreseeable future.
“We don’t have enough vaccines to go around,” he said.
McVoy’s experience was a head scratcher for Shroll. He said Eagle County has nothing to do with the appointments for vaccines at Vail Health. He said many people are understandably registering at multiple vaccine sites, so he speculated that might have been the case.
Shroll said every effort would be made to offer an equitable number of vaccines throughout the process in El Jebel.
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With a response rate to the 2020 Census survey below 40%, Pitkin County’s population appears to have been undercounted by at least 850 people.