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County public health staff started distributing Clear Creek’s first 100 COVID-19 vaccines to their colleagues and local firefighters, EMS staff, law enforcement Wednesday morning.
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County public health staff started distributing Clear Creek’s first 100 COVID-19 vaccines to their colleagues and local firefighters, EMS staff, law enforcement the morning of Dec. 24.
The county received the Moderna vaccines the previous day.
“It was fast, easy and the right thing to do,” said Empire Police Chief John Stein, who received his first shot Wednesday. “ … (The vaccine) helps our community and all the businesses … get back to the new normal.”
First responders and public health staff are considered Tier 1B under the state’s distribution plan, and will receive their second dose in 28 days.
“We’re pretty taxed, exhausted from what this has put on us,” Monseu continued. “ … This is a second wind to get us through the end.”
Those in Tier 2, such as essential workers, could be vaccinated in the spring and the remaining population in the summer. However, that is subject to change.
Tim Ryan, the county’s public health director, said he hopes to receive at least 100 vaccines every week — likely Moderna ones as the county doesn’t have a freezer cold enough to store Pfizer vaccines — and his staff will be contacting those next in line as the county receives more.
Clear Creek also hopes to use a mobile unit to make the process more convenient for community members.
Ryan noted in a recent county press release that the Moderna vaccine has a 95% effectiveness rate, and recipients can experience mild symptoms afterward.
“Mild side effects from the vaccine are normal,” Ryan said. “This is your body’s way of fighting the virus with an immune response.”
Until a majority of the population is vaccinated, Ryan emphasized that everyone needs to keep wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding social gatherings.
Because Clear Creek has a small number of first responders, it’s vital to ensure they don’t get sick so they can continue to serve the community, Stein explained. It also minimizes the risk of them spreading it to the public and their loved ones.
Stein recommended everyone who doesn’t have a disqualifying medical condition should get vaccinated when it’s available to them, saying, “It helps protect us all.”
Monseu described how, compared to Jeffco and other larger counties, Clear Creek community members will have better access to the vaccine, and he hoped they’ll take advantage of that when it’s their turn.
“We ask for people to be very patient,” he said. “Everyone will have access to it very soon.”
Stein, who works in Empire but lives in Grand County, arrived at the Idaho Springs fire station for his 9 a.m. vaccination appointment. He was the third person on the schedule, after two Georgetown police officers.
He handed in his paperwork, went through a health screening and then had the shot injected in his arm. Afterward, he waited nearby for 15 minutes to ensure he didn’t have an allergic reaction and then received a card telling him to return for his second shot on Jan. 20.
He said he’s already got it on his calendar to ensure he doesn’t forget.
Monseu likewise found the process easy, saying there were plenty of people there to walk him and his colleagues through the process and answer all their questions.
On Thursday, Monseu said he and fellow EMS staffers had some soreness at the injection site, which was expected. He estimated that about three-quarters of the EMS staff opted to get the vaccine this week, and others might wait another week or so to get their first dose.
Monseu said that while it’s ultimately in people’s best interest to get the vaccine, he does believe it’s a good thing to ask questions if they’re hesitant.
Like many Americans, both Stein and Monseu said some of their family members have contracted COVID-19. Stein said his son, who’s a dispatcher in Jeffco, was part of a recent outbreak.
“(The pandemic)’s something that none of us would ever believe we would be dealing with in our lifetimes,” Stein continued. “ … There was no question about getting vaccinated once it was available.”
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