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Colorado vaccine bus rolls into Bayfield

Mobile program distributes thousands of doses statewide
Bayfield Mayor Ashleigh Tarkington, left, and Bayfield economic recovery coordinator Beth Lamberson fist bump Tuesday next to the Colorado mobile vaccination unit. The bus rolled into Bayfield as part of a statewide program to improve vaccine access. (Shannon Mullane/Durango Herald)

BAYFIELD – Colorado’s COVID-19 mobile vaccination bus rolled into Bayfield on Tuesday ready to provide easy-to-access doses to residents.

The red and blue coach bus parked next to Joe Stephenson Park was part of Gov. Jared Polis’ Vaccines for All initiative, which focuses on vaccinating Coloradans who live in underserved areas, have small populations or don’t have easy access to transportation.

“Colorado wants to make the vaccine as accessible as possible for anyone who wants it, and the mobile clinics deliver the vaccine directly to communities who may otherwise not have easy access to getting the vaccine,” said Shelby Wieman, a state of Colorado spokeswoman.

As part of the initiative, the state aims to have events in every census tract identified as a priority for equitable vaccine distribution.

In total, four mobile units are running five routes around Colorado, one bus for each quadrant of the state. Each bus can vaccinate up to six people at once and administer up to 500 doses per day.

More than 6,000 Coloradans have been vaccinated through the mobile clinics, Wieman said.

“It is the state’s hope that these mobile clinics deliver the vaccine to thousands who may otherwise not have gotten the vaccine or who may have had to wait even longer to get it,” Wieman said.

The southwestern route, which is scheduled to continue until mid-June, hits 17 stops, including Durango, Bayfield, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, Mancos and Dolores.

Since the route launched last week, 189 Coloradans have been vaccinated in the Southwest Colorado mobile clinic. The state did not provide the number of vaccines administered by the mobile unit in Bayfield and Durango this week.

In Bayfield, community members could receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Anything to just make it a little more convenient for our residents to get vaccinated. We’re just trying to do our part,” said Bayfield Mayor Ashleigh Tarkington.

Tarkington, town trustees and Beth Lamberson, Bayfield’s economic recovery coordinator, helped coordinate the mobile clinic’s visit.

“The feedback I’m receiving right now from San Juan Basin Public Health is we really want to see the population 40 years and under get their shot,” Lamberson said.

The four people who arrived to receive the vaccine mid-afternoon Tuesday declined to comment about their experience. One said, “It’s too political”; another, “Heck no,” when asked for comment.

The program does not currently have an end date. But the mobile clinic is scheduled to pass through La Plata County again May 30 and June 1. People will be able to get their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. No identification or proof of insurance is required to receive the free vaccines.

“The general sentiment is, ‘Thank you for doing this in Bayfield,’” Lamberson said. “And that’s just a natural follow-up to the incredible work that the Upper Pine River Fire District did, as one of the first districts in the state to be a vaccine clinic.”

People can sign up by calling (877) 268-2926 or visiting mobilevax.us/clinics. All of the mobile bus clinics also accept walk-ups.

smullane@durangoherald.com

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