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First Vaccine Shipments Arrive at Vail Health

This article and photos first appeared in the Vail Daily on December 15, 2020.

Vail Health Safety Manager Kimberly Flynn and Vail Health Population Health Director Chris Lindley are joined by Airman First Class Samuel Weber of the Colorado National Guard in receiving the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Vail Health on Tuesday. The vaccine arrived at 12 p.m. and will be prepped for Vail Health to begin administering on Wednesday morning. Ben Gadberry, Vail Health

Eagle County received its first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday at Vail Health Hospital in Vail.

Vail Health is one of eight hospitals around the state to receive Pfizer’s vaccine after a FedEx van delivered the first shipment to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s lab in east Denver on Monday.

The first dose will be administered to a health care worker on Wednesday, said Sally Welsh with Vail Health.

Vail Health was chosen to be one of eight vaccine distribution centers based on its deep freezing capabilities, which are required to preserve the Pfizer vaccine. On the Western Slope, Vail and Grand Junction are the only two areas serving as distribution points.

Once in Vail, “the state would contract with couriers or other resources for the redistribution,“ Micki Trost, a public information officer with the State Emergency Operations Center, told reporters in Vail last week.

The first doses of the vaccine will go to health workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients, said Kimberly Flynn, Vail Health Safety Manager.

Airman First Class Samuel Weber and Staff Sergeant Tyler Braden of the Colorado National Guard helped receive and unpack the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Eagle County on Tuesday at Vail Health. Vail Health received 875 doses of the vaccine and will begin vaccinating staff on Wednesday. Ben Gadberry, Vail Health

Vail Health CEO Will Cook said once all health care providers and nursing home residents and workers who want the vaccine have received it, the hospital will try to get it out to “front-line” workers who interact with people.

“Ultimately I want to get it to folks that work in restaurants and hotels because, in my opinion, they’re as, if not more vulnerable, than some of our health care workers,” Cook told the Avon Town Council on Dec. 8. “The sooner we can get this to our people who don’t have the luxury to work remotely from Zoom, the better we are to getting past this darn thing.”

Cook said his best guess — with emphasis on guess – is that the Eagle County area moves through the first tier of vaccine recipients by the end of January, and the area is able to move on to other essential workers by early February.

“As we get more supply, we’re going to be doing everything we can to advocate for the front-line people,” Cook said.

Cook describes a front-line worker as anyone who isn’t able to work remotely, and works with people from the general public.

“If you don’t have the luxury of doing your work from a Zoom meeting, then you probably should be moved up on the priority list,” he said. “Everything we called essential while we were working our way to a shutdown, those are the people that, in my mind, need to be tee’d up to be able to get the vaccine.”

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