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'Our supply is not meeting the demand' | Counties desperate for more vaccines as number of eligible people expands

As the demand continues to rise for vaccines, the supply has stayed the same

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — The number of people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine will increase next week as the state moves to begin vaccinating teachers and people above the age of 65. While the number of eligible people goes up, the number of vaccines the state will receive stays largely the same. That’s leading to frustration.

"Unfortunately, our supply is not meeting the demand, like most counties," said Tim Ryan, the Clear Creek County Health Director. "We’re only receiving 100 doses every other week, which isn’t really cutting it. We could give out 1,000 a week if we had that. Right now we’re limited to what the state’s given us."

More than 70% of all people above the age of 70 have already been vaccinated in Clear Creek County. That's about 800 people. In a small county like this, that’s a significantly higher percentage than larger counties like Denver where the number is around 45%. That's about 25,000 people. 

There’s just one problem.

"Supply. Supply, supply, supply is what you’re hearing from most counties. We could do 1,000 a week and we’re getting 100 every other week," said Ryan. "Broadening the pool without increasing the supply, it doesn’t really make any practical sense on the ground."

Every time the state announces they’re broadening the pool for who is eligible, the phones at the Clear Creek County Department of Health start ringing.

"Literally within minutes. Literally within minutes," said Ryan. "Broadening to the teachers is great. It was a priority for us several months ago. But we haven’t received any additional vaccine to vaccinate the teachers."

Clear Creek received extra doses from Summit County a couple weeks ago so they could vaccinate more people. They’re also willing to help other counties by taking their drive-through clinic on the road wherever they’re needed.

As Ryan and his team work to vaccinate a growing list of eligible people, the number of doses they receive every week stays the same. 100, every other week.

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Regardless of how quick you can get a drive-through vaccine, what counties really need are more doses.

"It gives people a false sense of reality and a false sense of hope that it’s going to be sometime soon when in fact it might be two, three, four weeks before that ever really materializes," said Ryan. "Until we get the supply to meet the demand, those sorts of broadening of the pool isn’t going to help."

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