After weeks of planning, Ignacio is gearing up for its COVID-19 community vaccination clinic, starting with a mock run Saturday.
The mock run will work out any bugs in clinic operations as community volunteers learn their roles. Ignacio’s vaccination clinic is the third grassroots effort in La Plata County, alongside Durango and Bayfield, which serve central and northern areas of the county. If all goes well, Ignacio aims to start community vaccinations as soon as Feb. 13.
“We’ve been working every week to figure out what resources we have and what resources we need to pull together,” said Dixie Melton, spokeswoman for the Greater Ignacio COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic and medical provider at Ignacio Family Medicine.
In early January, Melton began calling Ignacio groups to start organizing a local effort after hearing the Community COVID-19 Vaccination Team was starting a clinic in Durango.
The Los Pinos Fire Protection District, town of Ignacio, Ignacio School District and Ignacio Police Department quickly jumped on board, she said.
The core team has created a plan for dispensing the vaccine and gathered community volunteers, who are registered through the Medical Reserve Corps, to help with the effort.
“I just have to say kudos to my group. They’ve really come aboard. If it hadn’t been for them, this would not be moving forward,” Melton said. “I couldn’t have done this by myself.”
The goal is to offer vaccines to residents within the Los Pinos fire district or the school district. That includes Ignacio, Oxford, Tiffany, Allison, other residents in southeastern La Plata County and parts of Arboles in Archuleta County, Melton said.
Adults ages 70 and older will be first in line for the vaccine, in accordance with the statewide tiered vaccination schedule.
On Saturday, 25 or more nonmedical and about six medical volunteers from the area will gather at the Los Pinos fire station in Ignacio.
Volunteers will have the option to receive the vaccine because they are working with the public through the clinic, Melton said.
Those who want to be vaccinated will receive their shots Saturday as a way to help the entire clinic hone their skills with the vaccination process.
“We’ve had our setbacks. You’re very enthusiastic when you start out ... but there’s a lot of moving parts that have to be considered,” Melton said. “It’s not like you can just put up a tent and say, ‘Oh, here comes the vaccine.’”
If they discover major issues during the mock run or with the vaccine, the team would have to delay the community vaccinations planned for Feb. 13.
But SJBPH will be on-site and Melton has been observing the Durango clinic, she said.
“I can’t imagine that there’s going to be something that would keep us from going on, on the 13th,” Melton said.
If all goes according to plan, the Ignacio clinic will open to the public on time.
The COVID-19 team plans to administer 60 to 80 vaccines every week, working from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Multiple groups are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, such as health care workers in high and moderate-risk settings, long-term care facility staff members and residents, and first responders, such as firefighters, police officers and correctional workers.
If someone is in one of these groups, but is younger than 70, they might be referred to another vaccine clinic, Melton said.
As a small operation, the Greater Ignacio COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic plans to fully vaccinate people 70 and older – administering both doses of the two-shot vaccine series – before moving on to other groups, Melton said.
“Once we get done with 70 and above, if we need to vaccinate teachers or whoever is next in those categories, we’ll move our way down,” she said.
The vaccines will be available by appointment only. Interested community members can stay up to date with details by signing up for the SJBPH notifications through sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus.
The notifications include who is eligible, how much vaccine is available in La Plata County and how to make appointments through enrolled providers.
“I’m feeling enthusiastic. I hope I can speak for my group – I think they are, too,” Melton said. “We really want to make sure we can do this for our community.”