SJBPH urges community to receive booster vaccinations

COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities continue to surge 

Amidst an ongoing surge of hospitalizations and deaths caused by COVID-19, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) strongly urges all adults to receive a booster dose of vaccine as soon as eligible. All adults should receive a booster dose either six months past finishing an initial two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months past receiving the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. Receiving a booster is shown to drastically increase protection from severe illness, and clinics with ample supply of all three vaccine types are widely available in both La Plata and Archuleta counties. 

According to State of Colorado data, people who are fully vaccinated and receive a booster are 47.5 times less likely to be hospitalized than someone who is unvaccinated. Individuals who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot are 9.7 times less likely to get COVID-19 than unvaccinated people, and 3.3 times less likely than people who are vaccinated without a booster. 

Intensive care units are near capacity in both La Plata and Archuleta counties and health care is strained across Colorado amidst an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by the Delta variant. In SJBPH’s jurisdiction, 28.2% of the total fatalities among COVID-19 cases throughout the pandemic have occurred in the past three months (62.5% for Archuleta County and 23.8% for La Plata County). In Southwest Colorado, more than 90% of COVID-19 hospitalizations have occurred with residents who are not fully vaccinated. Case rates for both counties remain comparable to the highest levels observed at any time during the pandemic, with Archuleta County currently among the highest in Colorado. 

With Colorado’s Tier 3 Hospital Transfer Plan in effect, COVID-19 patients can be transferred out of the region and there may be significant delays in transferring patients due to hospital capacity issues or the need for higher levels of care. Infections, severe illness, hospitalizations, and death continue to be highly concentrated among the unvaccinated population and these residents are urged to begin their initial vaccine series as soon as possible. 

Preliminary laboratory studies released today by Pfizer and BioNTech indicate that a booster dose of Pfizer vaccine may significantly increase protection from severe disease caused by the Omicron variant. Although more research and population-based studies are needed to know the extent to which the Omicron variant could evade existing immunity, these preliminary laboratory studies are positive indicators that vaccination and especially boosters will continue to be effective at preventing severe disease. Two cases of Omicron have been confirmed in Colorado as of Dec. 8, although wastewater monitoring in Boulder County indicates more cases may be present. The Omicron variant has not yet been confirmed locally. 

“The CDC now urges all adults to receive a booster dose as soon as eligible, and locally we’ve made that really easy and convenient for people. We have ample supply of all three vaccine types, and there’s wide availability of vaccine clinics and providers that can quickly get you in and out for your booster. We’re currently in a serious Delta surge, and we’re learning more about the Omicron variant every day. Whether it’s Delta or Omicron, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is get fully vaccinated, get your booster right away, and wear a mask inside businesses and public indoor spaces,” said Liane Jollon, Executive Director of SJBPH. “If you receive a positive test for COVID-19 and may be at risk for severe illness, please sign up for the monoclonal antibody treatment bus that the State has provided our community. It’s free and residents can self-schedule online. The treatment has been shown to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization for people who get COVID-19,” Jollon continued. 

CDPHE’s monoclonal antibody mobile unit is located at the La Plata County Fairgrounds (2500 Main Ave, Durango), next to the COVID-19 community testing site. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 

You may be eligible for treatment if you have tested positive for COVID-19, your symptoms started within the last 10 days, you aren’t hospitalized or on oxygen due to COVID-19, and you are at risk of getting very sick without treatment. Eligibility for treatment is for people 12 years of age or older. The treatment is free and no referral is required. Monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to be effective at preventing hospitalizations among individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are considered high risk for severe illness. 

Eligible individuals can sign up for treatment at the mobile unit by self-scheduling on an online platform provided by CDPHE. As part of the appointment making process, patients will complete a screening form to determine eligibility for the therapy. At the time of the appointment, a health care provider from the mobile unit will review the screening form and must provide authorization for a patient to receive this therapy. According to CDPHE, the on-site review of the screening questions and authorization to receive treatment will occur in just minutes, in most cases. 

More information about monoclonal antibody treatments, eligibility, and CDPHE’s mobile units is available on the CDPHE website. CDPHE is also providing the public with a flyer of instructions to sign up for an appointment at the mobile unit. Questions about the mobile unit or monoclonal antibody treatments should be directed to CDPHE by calling 1-877-COVAXCO (1-877-268-2926). 

Monoclonal antibody treatments may also be available through existing health care providers in the region. The public is directed to first consult with their physician for a referral if seeking monoclonal antibody treatment from a local hospital. 

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available for all residents ages 5 and up thanks to efforts by local partner providers, the State of Colorado, and local public health. 5 to 17-year-olds are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and the two-dose series takes at least five weeks from the first shot for individuals to complete the series and reach maximum immunity. There are numerous vaccine providers in La Plata and Archuleta counties, and SJBPH is offering clinics seven days per week in partnership with Jogan Health. All SJBPH and Jogan Health clinics can offer first, second, third, and booster doses for those who are eligible. The full schedule of vaccine clinics, pop-ups, and mobile clinics is available online with convenient dates and times available across both counties. 

Although advance registration is preferred, walk-ins are also welcome at upcoming vaccine clinics. The vaccine is free, and no ID is required. Additional providers and information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on SJBPH’s website.   

For COVID-19 data, testing locations, and more information about vaccines visit the SJBPH website. 


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