Milestone reached in county with COVID-19 vaccinations

But it’s not completely over…

By Mark Reaman

Gunnison County has officially reached the 10,000 mark of fully vaccinated people in the county. That makes the county one of the top in the state for vaccinated residents.

According to county officials, as of Monday, 10,057 Gunnison County residents are fully vaccinated. That corresponds to 69 percent of the population 16 years of age or older, which the vaccination target was based on. With expanded vaccination eligibility (12 years old) the county is at 65 percent fully vaccinated. Additionally, the county has more than 10,800 individuals who have received at least their first dose.

Gunnison County public information officer Loren Ahonen said these vaccination rates are substantially higher than what is being seen in other rural communities state and nationwide. In Colorado, rural communities have a 49-percent vaccination rate. For Gunnison County to have achieved 69 percent is an accomplishment.

“I think it’s truly remarkable what our community has accomplished together in light of the challenges nationwide in delivering rural vaccination,” he commented. “Gunnison County’s vaccination rate is nearly two times higher than the national rural average. We have been able to provide comprehensive vaccination services in Gunnison County that have largely not been available in other rural communities nationwide.”

But even with this success, it is important to remember that the coronavirus has not disappeared. New cases are diagnosed every week in Gunnison County. As the summer approaches and travel in and out of the community increases, there will continue to be opportunity for the virus to spread to those that are not vaccinated. Whether it is an unvaccinated tourist that contracts COVID-19 and comes here or someone living here who did not get the vaccine and perhaps travels outside the county and contracts the virus, it is still possible to get sick from COVID.

And even those that have been vaccinated may not be not totally immune. It was reported that a local resident who had received the vaccine traveled out of the country and apparently contracted COVID-19. While it is a rare possibility that vaccinated individuals become infected with COVID-19, it is exceptionally rare that they suffer serious disease.

“As we’ve been saying, the fact we have more than 10,000 people vaccinated has allowed us to lift the most stringent restrictions at the county level,” explained Ahonen. “But that doesn’t mean the coronavirus has disappeared. We are fortunate to be where we are in regard to vaccinations. High levels of vaccination generally lead to lower levels of viral transmission.”

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