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HUGO, Colo. (KDVR) — Thousands of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are rolling out to rural hospitals across Colorado.

Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo is one of them. It is receiving 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“We’re thrilled. It’s a huge relief to be able to start vaccinating our staff and our at-risk residents. It really changes everything for us right now,” said Kevin Stansbury, Lincoln Community Hospital CEO. 

Forty staff members (1/3 of the staff) tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic. 

There have been 750 cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County, which has a population of 5,400 people.

Until recently, there were no ventilators in the area.

For nurse Rachel Smith, who has had COVID, the Moderna vaccine is good news. 

“It was straight excitement. We have a group text at work, and we were sending them out asking, ‘Who’s ready?’ It was a lot of emojis!” Smith said.

In FOX31 and Channel 2’s COVID-19 town hall Monday night, we learned thousands of doses will be shipped to eight hubs across Colorado.

According to Moderna, 18,600 doses of the vaccine were shipped to 35 Colorado providers on Monday and 82,800 arrived at the remainder of facilities on Tuesday.

The Moderna vaccine doses do not need special freezers, unlike the Pfizer doses. That’s ideal for smaller hospitals on the Plains and in remote mountain regions.  

Colorado National Guard Brigadier Gen. Scott Sherman said, “That’s our biggest challenge. We’ve got to make sure that those hospitals and local public health agencies are prepared to receive the vaccine. And as soon as we take it out of the freezer and get it to them so they can administer as soon as possible.”

Gov. Jared Polis said it appears rural communities will get more doses than expected — some 20% higher — if administered efficiently. 

At Lincoln Community Hospital, staff members have built makeshift protective walls to keep safe.  They are now hoping Moderna’s shot in the arm is the beginning of the end of a long, hard fight.

The hospital is expecting additional regularly scheduled shipments in the weeks to come.