COVID-19 vaccine FAQ: Guide to the coronavirus vaccination process in Larimer County

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As the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed in Larimer County, there won’t be enough for everyone who wants one immediately. To help the community make sense of this process, the Coloradoan has created this guide that will be regularly updated. The information has been gathered from state and county health officials.

As of March 11, 19.8% of Larimer County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 12.3% are fully vaccinated.

You’re qualified for the vaccine in Larimer County if you’re in one of these groups:

  • Anyone age 60 or older
  • Anyone age 16 and older with two or more high-risk health conditions
  • Agriculture workers
  • Grocery store employees
  • Pre-K-12 educators, school staff and child care workers in licensed programs 
  • Health care workers
  • Long-term care facility staff and residents
  • First responders, including police, firefighters, correctional workers, funeral services workers and COVID-19 response personnel
  • Select members of the state executive and judicial branches 

As of March 11, here’s where Larimer County stands with vaccine distribution: 

  • 114,658 total doses administered
  • 70,584 first doses administered
  • 44,074 residents fully vaccinated
  • 29,690 residents ages 70 and older with at least one dose
  • 24,254 residents ages 70 and older fully vaccinated

Larimer County’s population is estimated to be at least 360,000.

Who is next in line for the COVID vaccine?

Colorado is vaccinating people through Phase 1B.3. That includes health care workers, anyone age 60 and older, and educators and licensed child care staff.

Gov. Jared Polis announced the next vaccine distribution phase, Phase 1B.4, will open March 19. Here’s who will be able to sign up for a vaccine:

  • Anyone age 50 and older
  • Student-facing higher education faculty and staff
  • Food and restaurant employees 
  • Manufacturing workers
  • U.S. Postal Service employees 
  • Public and specialized transportation employees 
  • Public health employees 
  • Human services employees
  • People providing direct services to Coloradans experiencing homelessness 
  • Frontline journalists 
  • Select local and state government employees
  • Adults who received a placebo in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • Anyone age 16 and up with one high-risk health condition, including:
    • Cancer (currently undergoing treatment or received treatment in the last month)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD
    • Diabetes 
    • Down syndrome 
    • Specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies, coronary heart disease and severe valvular/congenital heart disease)
    • Obesity 
    • Pregnancy 
    • Sickle cell disease 
    • Solid organ transplant
    • People with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks

Colorado expects to have enough vaccine doses for all adults to become eligible for a vaccine starting mid-April, Polis said. 

‘Never waste a dose’:How Larimer County health care providers give out extra COVID vaccines

How do I sign up to get a COVID vaccine when it’s my turn?

The Larimer County health department has online forms residents can fill out to be contacted when a vaccine appointment becomes available.

Individuals who qualify due to their age can fill out the form for themselves to be notified when a local provider has an appointment. 

Businesses that employ people who qualify for a vaccine, like health care workers or educators, are asked to complete the county’s COVID-19 planning survey to help providers coordinate vaccines. The county recommends people who qualify for the vaccine because of their profession to go through their employer.

Both forms can be found online at www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-vaccine

All Larimer County vaccine providers use the same spreadsheet created from these form responses, Gonzales said.

MORE:Here’s how to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Larimer County

What do I do if I’m having trouble making a COVID vaccine appointment?

For those who need help navigating the vaccine appointment system, the county and state have set up a few ways folks can contact someone to help:

  • Call the Larimer County health department: 970-498-5500 (9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday)
  • Text the Larimer County health department: 970-999-1770
  • Email the Larimer County health department: publichealth@larimer.org 
  • Call the 24/7 Colorado vaccine call center: 877-CO VAX CO (877-286-2962)

I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine. Now what?

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose, and people are considered fully protected two weeks after they receive their shot.

If you got the Pfizer vaccine, you’ll need your second dose about 21 days after your first one. The Moderna vaccine’s second dose should be administered about 28 days after your first dose. 

According to the CDC, the second doses of these vaccines can be administered up to four days early or six weeks (42 days) later. 

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require two doses to be fully effective, but they are about 60% to 70% effective after the first dose, Larimer County Medical Director Chris Urbina said. 

After the second dose, both vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing severe illness due to COVID-19, Urbina said. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the vaccine.

For a comparison, Urbina said the annual flu vaccine is anywhere from 25% to 60% effective. 

I’m fully vaccinated against COVID. Do I still have to wear a mask?

Masks will still be needed for months as health officials work to distribute vaccines to the general public. 

State health department Chief Medical Officer Eric France said 70% of the state’s population will need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. At the current rate, France said the state could reach that by around Labor Day or sooner. But with so many unknowns about vaccine supply, France said it is hard to predict when we’ll reach herd immunity.

The CDC on March 8 released new guidance that said those who have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccine may get together with other fully vaccinated individuals in small groups inside their homes without masks or physical distancing.

More:Vaccinated Americans can gather inside without masks or social distancing in certain circumstances, CDC guidelines say

Useful COVID vaccine links

Larimer County Department of Public Health and Environment: www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-vaccine

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: covid19.colorado.gov/for-coloradans/vaccine/vaccine-for-coloradans 

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Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at sswanson@coloradoan.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.