*LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT*

MCPH Urges Additional Precautions as Holiday Gatherings Approach, and COVID-19 and Influenza Circulates Putting Additional Strain on Local Hospitals

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After living in a pandemic dominated country for nearly a year, Mesa County finally received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine in mid-December. The ‘’liquid gold” in tiny vials, as it’s been described was immediately administered to the county’s first priority group by Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) and area hospitals. In early January, when the mass vaccination point of dispensing (POD) location opened, the need for additional staff was essential. 

Through the course of the pandemic, health care professionals and other essential workers have been dubbed coronavirus heroes. Since the COVID-19 vaccines emerged, another hero has been added to the list: volunteers.  

“We could never expand to a level that is significant to our community without the volunteers,” said Jeff Kuhr, Executive Director of Mesa County Public Health. Though MCPH has hired several temporary employees in the past year to respond to the pandemic, staffing up to the necessary level for mass vaccine distribution would be impossible to both establish and maintain. 

So far, the phased vaccine distribution rollout has been sluggish in Mesa County due to high demand and short supply of vaccine across the nation, but the need for volunteers never goes away. “We just hope that any day, or any week, we get a huge surge of vaccine coming in, and at that point, we will be prepared, thanks to our volunteers,” said Kuhr. 

Grand Valley residents have already stepped up and offered to volunteer their time.

“The community interest in making this vaccination effort a success is gratifying,” said Sue Kiser, the Volunteer Coordinator at Mesa County Public Health’s mass COVID-19 vaccination site.

Since the site opened, about 450 residents have signed up to help in positions from vaccinators to greeters. “They just want to be part of the solution,” said Kiser.

Diana Nicholes, a volunteer at the vaccination site echoed Kiser, saying, “It’s important, it’s just so important.” 

After retiring as a school teacher, Nicholes found it easy to give her time to benefit our community. In addition to feeling a sense of accomplishment, she’s happy to volunteer because it allows her to socialize during an otherwise isolating time. “It’s so nice to get out of the house, it’s actually been fun.”

Even with the generosity so far, more help is needed. If you are able to donate time to the vaccine efforts in Mesa County, visit health.mesacounty.us and click the “Volunteer To Help” button.