First responders in Montezuma County are next to get vaccinated against COVID-19, officials report.
One hundred doses of the Moderna vaccine have arrived at the Montezuma County Health Department, reports public information officer Vicki Shafer.
The vaccine shots will be administered to frontline health care workers and emergency responders in the Phase 1B category of the state distribution plan.
The category includes fields with a moderate risk level for exposure to the virus, such as workers in home health, hospice, dental settings, EMS, firefighters, police, correctional workers, dispatchers, funeral services and other first responders.
The health department is scheduling people in Category 1B for vaccine clinics next week. The location will not be revealed except to those who qualify for this round of vaccines.
“The first shipment will all be used up,” Shafer said.
People in these categories who have not been contacted for vaccine scheduling should contact their employer or email the health department at pub[email protected] with phase or scheduling questions.
More information on the Moderna vaccine can be found at the Centers for Disease control website, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid- 19/info-by-product/moderna/index.html.
The first shipment will not cover all in the Phase 1B category, and will be spread among different agencies.
The health department has not been notified when the next batch will be delivered. The Moderna vaccine requires a booster shot in 28 days.
Getting vaccinated is voluntary for the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, said Sheriff Steve Nowlin.
He said some staff want the vaccine, and others do not. Five deputies have signed up to receive shots from the first batch, Nowlin said.
Last week, local health care workers in Phase 1A at Southwest Memorial Hospital received the first 150 vials of the Pfizer vaccine in Montezuma County.
Under a Phase 1A distribution plan implemented by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, high-risk health care workers who have direct contact with patients for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
Pfizer requires a booster shot after 21 days.
The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -84 degrees Fahrenheit. The hospital purchased a specialized freezer to store the vaccines. The Moderna vaccine does not need to be stored at freezing temperatures.
Another 150 vaccine doses were expected to arrive this week to the hospital, with has a staff of about 400.
As of Dec. 23, Southwest Health System had vaccinated 319 frontline health care workers at the hospital, said executive assistant Bridgett Jabour.
On Monday, SHS plans to continue vaccinations with the Moderna vaccine for remaining staff, plus dental and home health workers.
Phase 1A also includes vaccinating long-term care facility staff and residents, also known as nursing homes. That vaccination program is mainly being run by a federal program called the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program in cooperation with drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens, which will provide the shots.
The vaccines for nursing homes have not yet arrived at the Cortez Walgreens, Shafer said. Those facilities will be contacted when they become available.
How does it work?The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a messenger RNA strategy to create antibodies that then attack the COVID-19 virus once detected in the body, said SHS medical director Kent Aikin.
It is different from traditional vaccines used for the flu or measles, which inject a small piece of inactive virus that the body recognizes as foreign and causes the buildup of an immune response.
Instead of using a piece of the virus, the messenger RNA vaccine utilizes a protein marker, or spike, that is very similar to a piece of the COVID-19 virus, Aikin said.
The distinct protein marker triggers an antibody reaction that destroys the actual COVID-19 virus once detected in the body.