After 115 people failed to show up for their vaccine appointments last week, Pitkin County has decided to wind down its mass-vaccination operations.
According to Deputy County Manager Phylis Mattice, next week will be the last time Pitkin County and its community partners host a mass-vaccination clinic near the Benedict Music Tent parking lot on the Aspen Meadows campus.
“We might have hit the bulk of people that the mass-clinic model works for,” Mattice said Monday. “It’s kind of like the last hurrah for the vaccination tent.”
Whether at the music tent parking lot or elsewhere, she said everyone who received a first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will get a second shot at the appropriate time.
Pitkin County had previously planned to move its mass-vaccination operation to Buttermilk Ski Area’s parking lot. However, after 115 people did not show up for their scheduled vaccination appointments last week, the county decided to transition away from mass-vaccination clinics and instead let Community Health Services, local pharmacies and primary care offices take the lead on inoculation.
“We do have permission to use Buttermilk and we had a plan in case we needed to do it but based on the cancellations and how hard it was to fill [those appointments] we just don’t think there’s a need,” Mattice said of the mass-vaccination clinic format specifically. “We’re sure there are still people in our community that want to get vaccinated.”
Last week, Pitkin County’s 1,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments filled up in just 20 minutes, Mattice said. While Pitkin County knows it can fill its Johnson & Johnson appointments with relative ease, it doesn’t know when more doses of the single-shot vaccine will make its way to the area.
“Due to the manufacturing snafu at one of the manufacturing plants a couple of weeks ago, we are not looking at getting Johnson & Johnson again for a while,” said Carly Senst, Pitkin County Public Health testing and vaccination coordinator. “We are not expecting to receive Johnson & Johnson in large allocations for honestly quite a while — like more than a few weeks.”
Last week, according to Senst, 30 individuals did not show up for their second dose of Moderna vaccine, 20 were absent for their second dose of Pfizer vaccine, and 65 failed to show up for their only shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In addition to those 115 people who did not show up on the actual day of the clinic, roughly 130 people also canceled their vaccination appointments ahead of time.
Despite all of last week's last-minute cancellations, Pitkin County was able to administer its entire allocation of vaccines without letting a single drop go to waste.
“As demand shifts and as our population demands change, our clinic model is going to change,” Senst said.
At the mass-vaccination clinic at the music tent parking lot set for Thursday, 1,170 individuals will receive a second shot of Pfizer and 150 local high school students will receive a first dose.
“We worked really closely with our school districts in order to get those communications out to the parents so that if they were interested in getting their young adults vaccinated they could sign up over the weekend,” Senst said. “We will potentially have a few spots remaining during [Tuesday’s] registration but those are going to go toward equity outreach for individuals who need a little bit of extra assistance coming to the clinic.”