El Paso County Will Vaccinate 1,500 Essential Workers And People Over 60 This Weekend

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Loaded syringes of COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at the National Western Complex in Denver on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. SCL Health partnered with dozens of community organizations including The Center for African American Health, The Senior Hub and The Center on Colfax, as well as the city and state, to create this pop-up clinic designed to get vaccinations into vulnerable seniors from underserved communities.

Colorado begins a new phase of COVID-19 vaccinations today, expanding access to grocery store and agricultural workers, people over 60, and people between 16-59 with two or more high-risk health conditions. Those can include cancer, diabetes, pregnancy and some heart conditions.

This weekend, the El Paso County Public Health building is the site of a pop-up clinic, at which 1,500 people will get shots.

Powell said while those appointments filled up in a matter of hours, the county is working diligently to connect eligible people with vaccine access.

"We are asking for grace and patience as we work to get [the] vaccine in everyone's arms who is eligible at this point in time," said Lisa Powell, the El Paso County emergency preparedness and response program manager.

Previously, El Paso County Public Health coordinated with local organizations Servicios de la Raza, UCHealth and Peak Vista Community Health to create pop-up clinics to serve Black and Latino residents. The community clinics in El Paso County vaccinated around 2,400 people in February.

These clinics are part of the state's plan to improve equity and access to vaccines to underserved populations. More than 965,000 people statewide have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and more than 521,000 people have been vaccinated with two doses.

White people make up 74 percent of people vaccinated in Colorado. In comparison, Black people make up 2.2 percent and Latinos make up 5 percent of people vaccinated.

So far, El Paso County has administered more than 144,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Powell is also reflecting on the year anniversary of the first confirmed cases in Colorado on March 5.

"I went on a cruise on Feb. 29. I came back on March 7, and hit the ground running from that moment forward. So I just starkly remember that," Powell said.

She said she's grateful to have more resources at the ready than she did a year ago.

"At that point in time, we really didn't have any tools," Powell said. "So to be in this place today, where we have testing available, where we have treatments available, and we know that some of the things that we're asking people to do work really well: social distancing, wearing your mask, cleaning your hands and using hand sanitizer. And then now, being able to start offering vaccine, it's a really great place to be."

To access the county's dedicated phone line to schedule vaccine appointments for people 70 and older, call 719-374-8313 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.