October 20, 2021: The COVID-19 vaccine continues to be widely available across both Archuleta and La Plata counties, and San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has scheduled additional clinics with added capacity to meet the community’s needs. This Saturday the 23rd, more than 60 Southwest Colorado Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers are answering the call to provide first, second, third, and booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to eligible residents at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. MRC volunteers will administer vaccinations, draw-up vaccine, register patients, conduct patient observations, provide traffic control, and assist in a range of other operational roles. Vaccine clinics are also planned this coming weekend at the Pagosa Springs Middle School:

  • Pagosa Springs Middle School, 309 Lewis Street, Pagosa Springs
    • Saturday and Sunday, October 23rd and 24th,10:00am to 4:00pm
    • All three authorized vaccine types will be available
    • Make an appointment for Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Clinics this weekend are planned in anticipation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) review of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses which will occur today and tomorrow. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters will be administered after the CDC’s approval, which could come as early as this Friday or Saturday. SJBPH will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and update the community if and when Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters are approved.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 700 volunteers have registered with the Southwest Colorado unit of the MRC. MRCs are community-based units of both medically trained and non-medical volunteers. Under the MRC program, volunteers are organized and deployed to strengthen the response to public health emergencies and natural disasters. Volunteers can also be deployed to improve emergency preparedness and advance critical public health initiatives.

The Southwest Colorado Medical Reserve Corps is one of 27 MRC units in Colorado. Before 2020, Southwest Colorado’s MRC membership stood at 10 volunteers. It has since spiked to more than 700 people from a variety of backgrounds.

“We’ve had an enormous number of volunteers supporting us since the COVID vaccine became available,” said Lori Zazzaro, who leads the MRC unit as SJBPH’s Emergency Manager. “It’s great to see the MRC coming together this weekend to help increase our vaccination rate and administer booster doses. I’m always inspired by the wave of volunteers who give their time and talent to help the community whenever we sound the call.”

During the pandemic, local MRC volunteers have aided with everything from case investigation and contact tracing to helping administer vaccines at clinics and performing COVID-19 testing. In addition to disease outbreaks, the Southwest Colorado Regional MRC can provide critical reserve capacity to respond to other emergencies affecting public health, such as wildfires or flooding.

Booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are currently available for individuals ages 65 and older, high-risk workers, people in institutional settings, and adults with underlying health conditions. The booster shot can be administered at least six months after recipients complete the two-dose series of the Pfizer vaccine. Among the eligible group, the booster doses of Pfizer are currently authorized only for individuals who originally received the Pfizer vaccine.

The following lists several of the ‘underlying health conditions’ for Pfizer booster eligibility:

There are several other groups eligible for a Pfizer booster including people in institutional settings or at high risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19:

  • Health care workers
  • Teachers and daycare staff
  • Grocery workers
  • People in long term care facilities, homeless shelters, prisons or other congregate settings
  • First responders

Moderately to severely immunocompromised people ages 12 and older continue to be eligible for a third dose of vaccine. For the immunocompromised, additional doses should be administered at least four weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Immunocompromised individuals are advised to seek the same mRNA vaccine that they originally received. If the matching vaccine type is not available, immunocompromised individuals may receive the alternative mRNA vaccine.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, current eligibility, and details on vaccine clinics and providers, visit the SJBPH website. Click here for more information about the Southwest Colorado Regional Medical Reserve Corps and how to volunteer.