Ouray County began the process of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday afternoon, with shots for first responders prioritized for the inoculations.
The first round of vaccines began with Ouray County EMS Chief Paramedic Kim Mitchell, who received the Moderna vaccine and will return for a second dose to fully protect her in 28 days. County Public Health Nurse Rebekah Stewart administered the vaccines to Mitchell first, then paramedic Kaitlyn Maclennan and Ouray Mountain Rescue Capt. Tim Pasek. County Emergency Manager Glenn Boyd, who is also a paramedic, was vaccinated.
More paramedics and healthcare workers from Ridgway Family Dentistry were in line for the initial doses, which had to be used once the vial was opened. There are 10 doses in a vial, and they must be used within six hours of opening for them to be viable.
The county received an initial shipment of 100 doses on Tuesday afternoon via a FedEx delivery, which was a surprise to County Health Department Director Tanner Kingery. This vaccine wasn't approved for use until Saturday, and is being used in more rural areas of the state without the means to store the Pfizer vaccines, which require ultra-cold temperatures.
County health officials are still determining a schedule for vaccination here and are establishing an online registration for those who would like to be contacted when they are eligible for the vaccine. The state has set up a priority system for vaccinations – with first responders and healthcare workers receiving doses first, followed by people over 65, essential workers and people with certain health conditions. The general population is expected to receive the vaccine this summer.
Editor's note: Click here to read a more in-depth story about the county receiving the vaccine in this week's edition of the Ouray County Plaindealer. Click here to watch a video of the first vaccination.