COLORADO, USA — Eight months into vaccine rollouts, San Juan County became the first in Colorado with 100% of its eligible residents vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
It's the least populous county in the state, made up of roughly 700 people, but it remains a popular spot for tourism.
"We saw a surge in tourism and a surge of people coming into our community," De Anne Gallegos, the public information officer for the San Juan County Public Health Department said. "We also believe that lifestyle lended to people making that decision to get the COVID vaccine and give themselves that line of defense against visiting tourists from out of state." Gallegos said the county is now focused on planning for potential booster shots for their residents.
"We’re already planning, how do we start repeating the process, so we really believe that folks receiving the booster shot is going to continue our success here in San Juan County," she said. While community spread is not too much of a concern, Gallegos said they are keeping an eye on the more contagious delta variant.
As of Saturday, data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports eight counties with a vaccination rate of 80% or higher including:
- San Juan (100%)
- San Miguel (88.5%)
- Pitkin (88.1%)
- Summit (86.3%)
- Eagle (84.8%)
- Mineral (82.7%)
- Broomfield (82.3%)
- Boulder (80.1%)
Residents of 17 counties in the state have 70% or more of their residents who have received a vaccine. Weld County, one of Colorado's most populous counties, remains below the 60% vaccination rate, but recently saw a 20% increase in doses administered over the last several weeks.
"We don’t look like a lot of other counties, we have a lot of geographic distance between towns and municipalities," said Eric Aakko, a spokesperson for the Weld County Health Department. "It makes it a challenge, we’ve got a lot of places to go and a lot of people scattered over 4,000 square miles so the logistics and the geography makes it a bit of a challenge, but we’re making headway."
With a more contagious delta variant spreading, Aakko expressed concern about the level of community spread, but said they continue to work with community organizations and employers to reach more people.
"We are concerned, but we are working aggressively with our partners and we’re starting to see success... we’re nearing 60% people getting vaccinated," he said. Aakko believes the sudden increase in vaccinations could be due to recent vaccine mandates, as well as parents preparing to send their children back to school in person.
"Our goal, as is everywhere else, is to get to herd immunity so we want to reach that 70% or over target," said Aakko. He estimates the county will reach that goal within the next couple of months.
There are nine counties with a vaccination rate of 40% or less including:
- Bent (40.7%)
- Dolores (40.6%)
- Lincoln (39.8%)
- Rio Blanco (39.6%)
- Kiowa (39.4%)
- Logan (38.7%)
- Kit Carson (39.3%)
- Cheyenne (32%)
- Washington (31.8%)
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