The administration of the COVID-19 vaccine has now been underway in the state of Colorado for over a month. With communication from doctors, pharmacies and government leaders, Colorado is ready to move onto Phase 2, according to Governor Polis.
Large, non-medical areas — such as Coors Field — are being selected as appointment-only vaccination sites. To achieve the herd immunity by vaccinating 75-90% of Coloradans, pharmacies and medical centers are working to distribute both their first and second doses as quickly as possible.
In El Paso County, 40 vaccination sites are open for qualifying residents to make appointments and to receive their doses of the vaccine.
This includes the student and faculty population of UCCS, where some students have already been eligible to get vaccinated in Phase 1, and now Phase 2.
The question is whether UCCS will operate as a vaccination site or not.
Stephanie Hanenberg, the assistant vice chancellor for Health and Wellness at UCCS, said that the campus will operate under special circumstances.
“We are going to be what is considered a CLOSED POD, which means we can only provide vaccines to UCCS faculty, staff and students.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are two kinds of PODs (points of dispensing). Open PODs will typically be in public locations, and closed PODs are not open to the public. Closed PODs are staffed and managed by organizations and agencies that focus on vaccinating their own populations.
In this case, UCCS will operate as a closed POD to only vaccinate students and staff.
Hanenberg also said that it was unlikely for UCCS to be chosen as a vaccination site for Phase 2, but that it was not entirely impossible.
“The decision will be made by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Our most recent notice stated that if we are selected as a site, it would be for Phase 2 and/or 3.
“So, we are waiting to see how they move forward. If we receive notification that we are selected as a site, we will begin working on a plan and communication about how the closed POD will proceed along with a timeline,” Hanenberg said.
The state of Colorado is moving onto section 1B.2 of Phase 1 of the vaccination process. This section will include Coloradans aged 65-69, pre-K-12 educators and childcare workers in licensed childcare programs. Section 1B.3 will begin to include frontline essential workers and those with high-risk conditions, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
Rather than administering vaccines via the Wellness Center, Hanenberg stated that the closed POD will use most of the Recreation Center.
“The POD will actually be set up on the entire first floor of the Recreation Center using the four gymnasiums and aquatics area,” Hanenberg stated. “This will provide enough space to check in and vaccinate at least 125 individuals every 30 minutes.”
As for communication on UCCS becoming a vaccination site, Hanenberg reiterated that the CDPHE will be the one to begin that process. Like many vaccination sites around the state, the CDPHE makes the ultimate decision as to where supplies — vaccines, medical professionals, etc. — are sent.
“We will be responsible for communicating our plan to the UCCS community should we become a POD site.
“CDPHE will just let us know the details around the phase and vaccine distribution and then we will communicate the campus plan once it is finalized,” Hanenberg said.
The UCCS community may have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the school, but that may not occur until Phase 3, later this summer.
Until then, all students are encouraged to practice social distance, continue wearing masks and stay vigilant about the health of themselves and their loved ones.