PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As Colorado prepares to receive the first rounds of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, some of the state’s more rural communities are hoping it could be the equitable solution they’re looking for.
“We found out, just now, that we’re getting Johnson and Johnson. We’re going to do this clinic on Sunday, and you know to pull that all together, I think that’s the name of the game through this pandemic,” said Dr. Kimberly Levin, Pitkin County Medical Officer and Emergency Room Physician with the Aspen Valley Hospital.READ MORE: Increasing Incidence Rates Prompt Tri-County Health To Endorse New Mask Guidance
Levin said hospital staff and community members have come together to volunteer at the community’s mass vaccination clinic. On top of this weeks allocated Moderna first and second doses, they anticipate receiving 1,500 Johnson and Johnson doses to distribute Sunday.
“The incident management team, and the public health team, and Aspen Valley Hospital and our physicians have worked really closely on getting this mass vaccine clinic up and running so we have that vehicle to give vaccine out,” said Tracy Trulove, Pitkin County Public Information Officer.
On Tuesday, Summit County also learned it would be receiving 1,000 Johnson and Johnson doses. County manager Scott Vargo told CBS4 it planned to have a mass vaccination pod set up Friday to get those doses into the hands of eligible community members.
While Pitkin County plans to administer its first 1,500 doses at its mass vaccination site, it believes the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine will reach more of its widespread population.READ MORE: Adams 12 Five Star Students & Staff Given COVID Protocol Guidance
“We see this down the road as the vaccine that would be really the vaccine that will increase equity and be able to provide these smaller clinics because you can store it so much easier, it’s refrigerated and it’s the single shot,” said Levin.
Not only will the single dose help when it comes to access for rural community members, it will also help with access to those living close to the ski areas.
“With the pandemic there’s been an influx of second and third homeowners who have moved here and so this is where they’re going to be getting their vaccines,” she said. ”
Levin said while the J&J vaccine is different, it’s 100% effective when it comes to preventing death, and 85% effective when it comes to preventing moderate to severe illness.
“I do think that take what you can get is really important because right now what we’re seeing with the numbers is we’re really seeing a leveling or a plateauing of this great downward trend that we’ve been on, and there is this concern of ‘are we plateauing?’ and ‘are we going to rise and have this fourth spike?’” Levin said. “So the timing of this vaccine is critical and so to take any vaccine you can get and it’s a fight against the timing of the variants we know are here in Colorado and are on the rise and so take any vaccine that you can get is really, there’s no use in trying to pick and choose.”MORE NEWS: Colorado Health Officials Recommend School Face Mask Requirements For Unvaccinated, Or Everyone In Higher-Risk Environments
Pitkin County says it plans to use the additional doses Sunday for those in the remaining 1-B3 group.