RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Public Health Department in partnership with Rio Grande Hospital and Rio Grande Hospital Clinics continue to issue COVID-19 vaccines for people in the San Luis Valley.
According to reports, the last vaccination clinic held on Friday, March 5 volunteers from several organizations issued 777 vaccines to people in the 1B1 through 1B3 phases which are people in the 60 and older age range, frontline essential workers in grocery and agriculture, as well as people 16-59 with two or more high-risk conditions.
Rio Grande Public Health Department Director Dr. Kolawole Bankole issued the following update on March 5 and shared all of the positive news, “To date, we have received 1,600 cumulative total doses (added 300 more) which have been all Moderna vaccines. We have not received any Johnson & Johnson vaccines yet.
“Phase 1B3 which includes agricultural workers, we have ongoing discussions happening valley-wide to outreach and coordinate vaccination for this specific population,” Bankole said. “Some of the suggestions to further finetune coordination to ensure we reach the correct people include using a farmer's warehouse located close to the Sargent School. And as well to take advantage of our mass vaccination clinics to get vaccines to this unique set of our population.”
Getting in contact with the agricultural workers in the Valley has been one of the top priorities for several of the public health agencies throughout the region since the beginning of the pandemic. Many of the agricultural workers that come to the area specifically during summer and fall months come from out of state and many others from out of the country who are on work visas.
Dr. Bankole and his department are working with local health officials to help spread the word about vaccination and are working to educate the general and agricultural public as much as possible on best practices to ensure safety.
“We are working with Valley Wide Health Systems outreach coordination and liaison with the state on the need for vaccines,” Bankole said. “According to the National Center for Farmworker Health, Colorado estimates, Rio Grande County has the highest number in the San Luis Valley region with an estimated total number of workers around 1,348 (1,086 direct hire and 262 contract workers); which underlines the importance of streamlining focus to this unique population.”
Rio Grande Public Health Department will continue to work with local organizations and partners to host mass vaccination clinics well into the future to ensure the health and safety of this community.
The Rio Grande Public Health Department thanked all the partners, collaborators and volunteers that made the mass vaccination clinic successful, ranging from the Rio Grande Hospital and Clinics, EMS, EM, police, to student nurse volunteers.
It also thanked the community members coming out to take advantage of the available vaccines, to protect themselves from the COVID-19 infection. The county remains in Blue status on the state’s COVID-19 dial and will be working through the suggested phases, hopefully bringing the vaccine to the general public by summer.
For more information or to get on the waiting list for the vaccine, visit the county’s website at www.riograndecounty.org.