San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is working with local vaccine providers and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to reduce barriers, meet community members where they are, and provide vaccines to priority populations who might not otherwise get vaccinated.

Out of a shipment of 4,000 Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines, SJBPH held 600 of the safe and effective single-dose vaccines in reserve for underserved, priority groups. The arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the region is a game-changer for equitable distribution. Unlike the other two vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerated temperatures, making it easier to administer directly to people who experience transportation challenges or are otherwise homebound. The one-shot vaccine is also ideal for people experiencing homelessness or those who might have a difficult time making a second dose appointment.

“We’ve achieved the highest vaccination rate as a region through community partnerships and efficiency, and at the same time we are prioritizing people who have barriers to accessing a mass vaccination site,” said Liane Jollon, Executive Director of SJBPH. “As we move into the next phases of vaccine distribution, we must ensure no one is left behind. Vaccines must be distributed equitably to better protect the health of all of our community members, especially those more vulnerable to serious illness, like older adults and people in high-risk groups,” added Jollon.

SJBPH is grateful for its strong partnerships helping ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine. Recent vaccine equity clinics and distributions were held by or in collaboration with Axis Health System, the Arc of Southwest Colorado, Adaptive Sports Association, Town of Ignacio, Hilltop House, Volunteers of America, Southwest Safehouse, Manna Soup Kitchen, Compañeros, The Family Center, the Archuleta and La Plata County Sheriff’s Offices, and Southwest Center for Independence.

As SJBPH continues to expand COVID-19 vaccine distribution to populations that may face barriers, support from Community-Based Organizations is crucial to broaden access to vaccination sites. In addition to overcoming vaccine access barriers and strengthening vaccine confidence within target populations, CBOs accepted in the State of Colorado’s equity program also bring extra vaccine into the region outside of the normal allotment.

SJBPH emphasizes that a combination of the following public health precautions and widespread vaccination will together reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in our region:

  • Wearing face masks
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet
  • Avoiding nonessential indoor spaces, and gatherings with others not in your household
  • Avoiding travel
  • Washing hands well
  • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible

Additional information about vaccine eligibility can be found on SJBPH’s website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/ or by calling the state’s vaccine hotline at 1-877-368-2926.