(September 15, 2022): As children and young adults return to schools and colleges, COVID-19 cases in those settings are increasing. This serves as a reminder to stay up to date on vaccinations for COVID-19, flu and all vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as stay at home when sick, to keep these illnesses out of our learning environments.

While COVID-19 cases have leveled or declined statewide and in Archuleta and La Plata counties, the virus is still circulating in our communities and can cause severe illness especially for individuals of advanced age and people with certain medical conditions. As students, teachers and staff return to school, San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has seen increase in COVID-19 cases in educational settings. Since Labor Day, 24 percent of cases reported in La Plata County and 28 percent of cases in Archuleta County were in individuals aged 19 and younger.  SJBPH urges individuals to follow CDC guidance if they are sick or exposed.

Boosters are now available for the COVID-19 omicron variant, the predominant strain circulating in the United States. Both Pfizer and Moderna have produced omicron boosters.

Pfizer’s omicron dose is authorized for people aged 12 years and older. Moderna’s omicron dose is authorized for people aged 18 years and older. Anyone aged 12 years and older who has completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines should receive an omicron dose. A primary series usually means two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. People who are immunocompromised may receive up to three doses in their primary series.

People who previously received any number of booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines should also receive an omicron dose at least two months after completing their primary series or their most recent dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People who recently had COVID-19 may wait up to three months after testing positive or first started feeling symptoms before scheduling an omicron booster.

Colorado Department of Health & Environment (CDPHE) is holding a temporary vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. It is currently offering Pfizer and Moderna shots, though Moderna supplies are limited. The clinic will also offer flu vaccine in the coming weeks. Book an appointment at this link.

The COVID-19 omicron booster is also available locally through medical providers, pharmacies and on CDPHE’s mobile vaccine clinics held throughout the region. To find a vaccine, contact your medical provider or pharmacy, visit vaccines.gov or call Colorado’s Vaccine Hotline (877-268-2926). Find locations of the CDPHE mobile vaccine clinic and book an appointment at this link.  Additionally, SJBPH also has limited omicron booster appointments available at the Durango and Pagosa Springs offices.

Vaccines are the safest, most effective way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death caused by COVID-19 and its variants. It remains especially important for older adults and high-risk individuals to be up to date on vaccinations in advance of the fall and winter when more activities move indoors and spread of respiratory illnesses increases.

There is free community PCR testing available at the La Plata County Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday and Saturday. At-home tests

are available free at the SJBPH offices in both Durango and Pagosa Springs. More information about testing is available on SJBPH’s website.

KN95 masks are also available at SJBPH front desks in Durango and Pagosa Springs.

COVID-19 treatments are available if you test positive. You should get treatment as soon as possible when you start to feel symptoms. If you are at high risk and have COVID-19, ask your health care provider about treatment as soon as you can. Telehealth is also an option for receiving treatment. Learn more about how to access COVID-19 treatments via the State of Colorado or SJBPH.