Teller County Gaining Ground In Race to Deliver COVID-19 Vaccinations

Rick Langenberg

Teller County is moving full-speed ahead in the race to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations, especially for a rural burg.

According to Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker, more than 50 percent of the area’s older population (citizens of the age of 70-plus), have received the COVID-19 shots.  That’s impressive, and is marking a much better pace than neighboring El Paso County on a per capita basis.

In fact, based on media reports, El Paso is struggling a bit in the ability to deliver vaccinations and in receiving ample supplies.

And while Teller had a recent slowdown due to the national cold spell that halted deliveries,  their trend of getting citizens vaccinated has accelerated, with close to 5,500 COVID-19 shots occurring.

The county had a recent mass vaccination event last week at the Ute Pass Cultural Center And the county’s Public Health Department has been holding clinics for those who register for appointments on Teller’s COVID website.  On Friday, a big clinic was set up in Cripple Creek at  the  school-based health center.

Also, some major local pharmacies, such as Safeway, are now offering appointments in a fairly easy hassle-free manner with few wait times.

Residents are still advised to sign up on as many lists as they can through their health providers, insurance outlets, pharmacies and with  public health departments.

Another good source in the region is the Find It site on the Channel 11 KKTV website, which makes appointment sign-ups for pharmacies in the region and state, easily available.

One of the big complaints has been the complexity involved in obtaining the vaccination shots, especially for senior citizens, who often aren’t that computer savvy.  But Governor Jared Polis has vowed to make the process simpler and to increase supplies.

Eventually, the COVID vaccinations could emerge as a  common shot that people can receive at their doctor’s office or at local pharmacies.  But the process is still quite frustrating due to the lack of a centralized vaccination program.

As for the county’s COVID-infection rate, no major changes have occurred, with Teller still remaining in the Level Blue designation.  By the middle of last week, the county had recorded nearly 1,300 COVID  cases and 15 fatalities.

The latest fatality involved the death of former Woodland Park Mayor Val Carr.

Oddly enough, the state still hasn’t classified  the former mayor’s death as COVID-related, a statistic that is being challenged by county officials.  The main issue of dispute appears to be the timing of  Carr’s death in relation to when he first contracted the epidemic.

Regardless, county elected leaders joined other civic figures last week in expressing strong remorse for his recent death. In the last week, Teller and the Ute Pass region lost a few key icons. Dick Bratton, a former Green Mountain Falls mayor, trustee, and the pioneer of the area’s burgeoning trails movement, passed away. Long-time resident Connie Briggs of southern Teller also died.