December 14, 2020 – Wednesday marked an exciting turning point in El Paso County’s COVID-19 response efforts, with the first COVID-19 vaccines arriving in El Paso County.
Partners from El Paso County Public Health, County, City, Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, and hospitals have been responding to COVID-19 for more than nine months, and receiving these first vaccines is an encouraging development that marks a critical juncture in response efforts.
UCHealth Memorial Central received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines in El Paso County Monday. UCHealth says those first doses will be distributed to hospital staff and other health care workers, as outlined by Colorado’s phased vaccine distribution plan. The state’s plan identifies that the COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed in phases, with phase one focusing on those most at risk for COVID-19, such as health care workers, first responders, and staff/residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The next phase of vaccinations will be available to higher risk individuals and essential workers, and the final phase will make vaccines available to the general public.
“After more than nine months of fighting this pandemic without a pharmaceutical intervention, this is a historic milestone for our community which will accelerate our COVID-19 response efforts. Since this summer, we’ve been leading the vaccination planning process and working with partners, in alignment with state and federal vaccine priorities, to operationalize vaccination efforts in the community,” said Susan Wheelan, El Paso County Public Health Director. “We greatly appreciate everyone in the community and our many partners who have been doing all they can to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We continue to urge residents to follow the guidelines and prevention measures, taking small acts, which add up to create a broad collective impact.”
The next few months will be critical, and we continue to urge our community to take a layered approach to prevention by using all of the tools available to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Limit gatherings to household members only
- Wear a mask properly
- Covers the nose and mouth
- Practice social distancing
- Stay home when sick
- Wash hands frequently
“Today is a breakthrough in our fight against the pandemic. We are honored to be amongst the first to receive the vaccination as the next line of defense against this virus. We have seen many somber days during this pandemic, but our resiliency has brought us through, and the future looks bright,” said El Paso County Commissioner Cami Bremer. “There have been many times during this pandemic that it felt like we could do very little, but now we have a very tangible action we can do to stop the spread of the virus and restore our community’s vitality and strength.”
“The initial doses of the vaccine signal a long-awaited turning point in the fight against COVID-19. Our health care workers are the first line of defense and protecting them is critical. While we are starting to see a plateau, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain high in our community, and this vaccine is an essential tool to help end this pandemic and help our community return to normalcy. I encourage everyone who is able to get immunized. I have great confidence in our medical and public health community and the rigorous process to ensure its safety and efficacy, and I look forward to receiving it myself,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
“There are months of work ahead now, getting the vaccine delivered, distributed and administered. It will take a lot of coordination, and it’s work we’re really happy to be doing,” said Jim Reid, Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management Director.