Park County Public Health has given nearly 2,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine as of Jan. 20, according to a release from the agency. Public Health has used nearly all of the doses it has received since the first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the county in December.
To aid in the effort, Public Health has been recruiting help from all the major medical facilities in the county and recruiting manpower from retired nurses and doctors.
“It truly is a great example of Park County pulling together to get vaccines out to the community,” said Bill Crampton, Park County Public Health Nurse Manager in a release.
Public Health is continuing to focus its vaccination efforts on members of Tier 1A and 1B, which includes health care workers, first responders and the elderly over age 70, to name a few groups.
Efforts to vaccinate large swaths of the population have been hampered by a lack of supply. Another shipment of 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine (the standard shipment amount) was received by Public Health last week and has already been allocated for some of the Tier 1B groups, including the school districts in the county.
Cody Regional Health Long Term Care Center Administrator Brian Huso said the center bypassed the agreement in place with Walgreen’s and worked to get residents who wanted the vaccine vaccinated, 60 in all.
“We want to have clinics of 600, 700, even 800 people in a day, once we get more vaccine made available to us,” said Kindy Krei, supervising nurse at the Powell Public Health office in a release.
Giving nearly 2,000 doses of the vaccine means as much as 6.3% of the Park County population has been at least partially inoculated against COVID-19, though the true percentage is lower than that, as some people have already received their second dose of the vaccine. Public Health did not give a precise number of people who had received the shots.
If vaccination continues at the current rate, it will be around 21 months before Park County hits the 70% inoculation mark. Crampton said it likely won’t take that long for everybody who wants the vaccine in Park County to receive it as he thought many would opt not to get the vaccine. He thought the vaccine would be available to all who want it by the end of summer.
“A group in the 1A category, over half of them didn’t want it and we moved on to the next categories,” Crampton said.
Seventy percent is the low end of the scale which Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, says is necessary for the beginnings of herd immunity, which would allow the population to stop wearing masks and resume normal lives without too many problems from the virus.
“I would think you would 70, 75, maybe 80% of the population vaccinated,” Fauci said in a December interview with CNBC. “If we get that, we would develop [an] umbrella of immunity that would be able to protect even the vulnerables who have not been vaccinated or those in which the vaccine has not been effective.”
President Joe Biden has said repeatedly he wants 100 million doses of the vaccine to be given in his first 100 days in office but it is not clear that vaccine producers would be able to meet that goal. A National Public Radio analysis found Pfizer and Moderna need to produce nearly double the amount of vaccine they are currently making to make 100 million doses by the end of March.
The lack of supply makes it a challenge to make mass dosings available to the public, though Crampton said rumors of Cody being passed over for the vaccine were untrue.
“We did two clinics last week,” Crampton said. “Tuesday, we did 188 people at the [Cody] Auditorium.”
Still, more signups for Cody clinics have not opened as of Monday morning. Crampton said that’s because he needs more vaccine.
“I will not have people sign up until I know I have vaccine for them,” he said. “It does the public no good to sign up for something and then I have to cancel it because I don’t have vaccine.”
Check the Park County COVID website frequently to see when new clinics open and sign up at http://www.parkcounty.us/CoronaVirus.html.