Nearly a month into COVID-19 vaccines arriving in Denver, here’s how the city’s handling the rollout

The city said it’s working with the state to get more places to become vaccination sites.

A vail of the Pfizer vaccine after arriving at Denver Health on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health)

A vail of the Pfizer vaccine after arriving at Denver Health on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

It’s been nearly a month since the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Denver, but most people are nowhere close to receiving their first dose.

City public health department spokesperson Tammy Vigil said the department is in information-distribution mode, working with the state to try and get more places like clinics and doctors offices to sign up to become vaccination sites. Vigil said the city is working to give medical providers information about how they can sign up to become a site where people in Phase 1, or those 70 and older, can get a vaccine.

Vigil said people over 70 should hear from their health care provider about how to receive a vaccine. A spokesperson for Denver Health confirmed the hospital has started vaccinating people in this age group after reaching out to them via email, text messages and phone calls.

Most of the general public won’t be able to get the vaccine until this summer.

Vigil said the city has been “flooded with questions” about vaccinations during Phase 1, which she predicts will take all winter to complete. She said the floodgates for the questions were opened by the state after it released its revamped vaccine plan on Dec. 30. The plan’s final phase, 3, includes anyone ages 16 through 59 and will likely begin this summer.

While the city’s isn’t vaccinating the general public yet, some city staff have received vaccinations through partnerships with places like Denver Health, which inoculated frontline workers such as firefighters and cops. Health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities were among the first people in the city to get a vaccine, according to Vigil.

Yolanda Guerra arrived for COVID-19 testing at the Globeville Community Church provided free by Clinica Tepeyac. Sept. 1, 2020.

Yolanda Guerra arrived for COVID-19 testing at the Globeville Community Church provided free by Clinica Tepeyac. Sept. 1, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

 

A state health department spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous for this story, said the state is giving vaccines to approved providers. The state spokesperson said the supply of initial COVID-19 vaccines Colorado gets will be “very limited” for several months but declined to specify why. The state’s health department has an online map showing existing vaccine providers.

Here’s how some cities and states around the U.S. are handling the vaccine rollout.

Some places are getting creative. Certain Florida counties, for example, are using Eventbrite to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments.  State officials there told The Verge that they believe this method would make it easier for people to get vaccinated.

Residents in Seattle, which has a population about the size of Denver’s, can use an online platform called PhaseFinder to self-report their eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations. The platform is being administered by the state and will be available starting this week. The state will rely on people being honest about whether or not they’re actually eligible for the vaccine.

People in Austin, another city similar in size to Denver, are encouraged to check in with doctors about how soon they can get vaccinated. The Austin American-Statesman reported health care workers, first responders, people older than 65 and people between 16 and 65 with underlying health conditions can be vaccinated in Texas.

CPR News reported that through Jan. 5, just over 120,000 Coloradans had received their first shot, which is nearly 3 percent of the state’s adult population.

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