You’ve got COVID-19 vaccination questions. Garfield County Public Health has answers.

The opening up of the COVID-19 vaccination to more people this month — and even more so as April dawns — means more and more individuals are now able to get vaccinated.

To answer some of our readers’ common vaccination questions, the Post Independent recently turned to our local public health professionals.

The following answers to our questions were provided by the staff at Garfield County Public Health, with some of the information gleaned from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

A Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine waiting to be distributed at Valley View Hospital.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Should I be choosy about the type of vaccine I receive?

None of the vaccines are recommended over the other. We encourage the public to get whichever vaccine type or product is offered when they become eligible for vaccination. Getting vaccinated greatly reduces the risk of illness if you are exposed to the virus.

If taking one of the two-dose vaccines, how flexible is the timeline for the second dose?

You should make every effort to receive the second dose of your COVID-19 vaccine exactly 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer and 28 days after the first dose for Moderna. Plan accordingly with your first dose provider so that you are able to get the second dose of your vaccine at the right time.

If it isn’t possible to get the second dose on the right day, the second dose can be given early, up to four days before it is due. Additionally, the second dose can be given as late as 42 days (six weeks) after the first dose. This is called a grace period.

There is not a lot of data on how well the vaccine will work if given outside of the grace period. But, if the second dose is accidentally given outside the grace period, there is no need to restart the vaccination series.

Public Health strongly encourages everyone to receive their second dose at the same location or from the same provider they received their first dose. It is so important to get the second dose when indicated, that vaccine providers are making accommodations to get people in as soon as possible for second doses.

Once I’m two weeks out from my final dose, how cautious should I remain about resuming normal activities?

After getting fully vaccinated, it’s important to continue taking precautions while you are in public and at work, like wearing a well-fitting mask and keeping at least 6 feet of physical distance from other people. This is because you might still be able to spread the virus to unvaccinated people.

If you are fully vaccinated, you may visit other people who have been fully vaccinated indoors without wearing masks or physically distancing in small groups.

If you are fully vaccinated, you may also visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.

Public Health recommends continuing to avoid medium and large gatherings with multiple households even after vaccination.

For more information about precautions you should take after vaccination, please see CDC’s webpage article, “When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated: How to Protect Yourself and Others.” []

How soon can we anticipate the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson and/or AstraZeneca vaccine in Garfield County?

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines from the companies Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). As of Feb. 27, 2021, large-scale (Phase 3) clinical trials are in progress or being planned for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The timeline for AstraZeneca will depend on FDA’s review and authorization process. Allocations of Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being determined at the state level based on federal supply.

(Note: The J&J vaccine has not yet been allocated to Garfield County.)

What’s the latest percentage of Garfield County residents vaccinated? First dose? Second dose?

As of March 22, approximately 40% of Garfield County residents have received one shot, which includes those individuals who received the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine outside the county.

Providers/clinics/pharmacies/public health in the county have given nearly 18,400 first doses and 9,400 second doses. We know that there are some of these doses that have gone to people who reside outside of Garfield County and are working to get updated numbers of people vaccinated.

What’s the vaccination goal for the county (percentage of population)?

Public Health’s vaccination goal is 70-75% of the population.

When can we collectively feel comfortable attending concerts, sporting events, festivals and other larger gatherings?

This is yet to be determined based on multiple factors. As we learn more about variants, monitor disease trends, and receive updated guidance from the CDC, we will continue to provide up-to-date information regarding events and other larger gatherings. At this time, we recommend continuing to avoid medium and large gatherings with multiple households.

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