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COVID-19 vaccines are in Clear Creek, and some community members might receive them earlier than they initially expected. On Dec. 30, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced an updated vaccine …
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Since the county received its first 100 vaccines on Dec. 22, most of Clear Creek's first responders and public health staff have gotten their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
“It was fast, easy and the right thing to do,” Empire Police Chief John Stein said. “ … (The vaccine) helps our community and all the businesses … get back to the new normal.”
Because Clear Creek has a small number of first responders, it's vital to ensure they stay healthy and continue to serve the community, Stein explained. It also minimizes the risk of them spreading it to the public and their loved ones.
Clear Creek EMS Capt. Bryon Monseu commented: “We're pretty taxed, exhausted from what this has put on us. … This is a second wind to get us through the end.”
Tim Ryan, the county's public health director, said most of those who received their first dose on Dec. 23 didn't have any major side effects. Monseu and others said they had some soreness in their arm at the injection site, which was expected and went away after a few days.
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.
Compared to Jeffco and other larger counties, Clear Creek community members will have better access to the vaccine, Monseu said, adding that he hopes they'll take advantage of that.
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.”
COVID-19 vaccines are in Clear Creek, and some community members might receive them earlier than they initially expected.
On Dec. 30, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced an updated vaccine distribution schedule, modifying who qualifies for Tier 1B. This was previously first responders and similar personnel, but it has now expanded to include anyone 70 or older as well as essential frontline workers, such as teachers.
These changes, along with an uncertainty of how many vaccines it will receive each week, has made the county’s distribution process a moving target, Clear Creek Public & Environmental Health Director Tim Ryan described.
On Dec. 22, the county received its first 100 Moderna vaccines. A week later, it received another 200, he described, and his staff was working hard to identify and contact those in Tier 1B even before the state updated the schedule.
“We’re trying to adjust as quickly as we possibly can,” Ryan said. “ .. It’s harder to line up people once you get closer to the general population.”
On Dec. 30, the county had only 80 people scheduled to receive their first dose, so Ryan said it’s possible Clear Creek could vaccinate 320 people this week depending on whether it receives another 200-vaccine shipment as expected.
Clear Creek officials are still working on how to contact and schedule all these new Tier 1B recipients and will announce its finalized plans on social media and other outlets.
The state’s schedule outlines Tier 2 individuals, such as those who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk, receiving the vaccine this spring and the general population receiving it this summer. However, that’s subject to change.
In the meantime, Ryan explained, Clear Creek is still conducting weekly testing at various sites across the county. Until herd immunity is achieved by enough people getting vaccinated, Ryan said everyone must continue to wear face coverings, social distance, and reduce the size and frequency of personal gatherings.
Honored and relieved
Zoom is getting old as a way to connect with others, Project Support board member and volunteer JoAnn Sorensen said.
So, getting her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last week at the Idaho Springs fire station was the first step to be able to interact more freely with people, she described.
Sorensen and others said receiving the first dose was less painful than getting the flu shot, although they were expecting some soreness at the injection site in the days following.
“The process is easy,” Project Support resident Mike Maloney said.
Maloney, 68, likewise described feeling cooped up. He said he reads books and articles online far more than he used to, and he only leaves to walk to the post office and the grocery store.
“If I’m inspired, I walk to Starbucks,” he said with a smile, adding that he wants to go on a road trip soon.
Like Maloney, Idaho Springs dentist George Douvas and his office manager/assistant Jennifer Upright recommended everyone get the vaccine when it’s their turn.
“I feel thankful,” Upright said of receiving her first dose.
The entire process — which involves turning in paperwork, receiving the injection and then waiting 15-30 minutes to monitor for allergic reactions — is easy, efficient and painless, Douvas described.
Douvas, who was an immunologist before becoming a dentist, said he’s a very strong believer in vaccines.
“I’m thrilled (to receive it),” he said. “I wish it on everyone. They need to protect other people as well as themselves.”
Project Support resident Michelle Shaw, 64, said she hasn’t gone anywhere except to the doctor’s office since the pandemic started. Her medical conditions make her high-risk, she explained.
Along with her own isolation, the impacts of COVID-19 are all too acute for Shaw and her family. One of their loved ones died from the virus, and her mother died from being isolated from her loved ones, Shaw described.
“I would’ve given (the vaccine) to my son or grandkids first if I could’ve,” she continued. “ … Just the possibility of it helping is encouraging.”
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