Colorado health systems and hospitals are beginning to allow people 70 and older — who are at the highest risk from COVID-19 — to sign up to receive vaccines, state officials announced Wednesday.
Older residents, along with essential workers, were added to the next stage of vaccine distribution, Phase 1B, last week. But since then, there has been confusion over how and when those people will be inoculated. To help, the Colorado health department has divided up which providers will administer the shots to certain groups in the next phase of distribution.
“The more quickly we can get people 70 and up vaccinated, the more lives we can save,” Gov. Jared Polis said during a news conference Wednesday, noting that 78% of the people who’ve died from COVID-19 in Colorado are 70 or older.
Under the state’s guidelines, health care providers — including hospitals, pharmacies and safety net clinics — will administer COVID-19 vaccines to people 70 and older. Providers have different ways that qualifying people can sign up for the shots, which are listed below.
Questions still remain, though, about how older Coloradans without current health care providers will receive their vaccines. At least one system, UCHealth, will start taking sign-ups from non-patients.
Hospitals are expected to vaccinate about 50% of Coloradans 70 and older. Local public health agencies and community partners are due to handle 20% of that age group, federal qualified centers another 20% and retail pharmacies the remaining 10%.
“This is an enormous undertaking,” state health director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said during the news conference Wednesday. “In order for us to be quick and effective, we have to be flexible.”
Staff and residents of long-term care facilities, which also are prioritized in Phase 1A, will be vaccinated by CVS or Walgreens via the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program.
Of the 1,139 facilities enrolled in the program, only 556 have been scheduled for vaccination clinics. At least 6,055 doses have been administered by the pharmacies at the facilities, according to the state health department. Polis said Walgreens expects to finish its portion of the vaccinations by the end of next week, but CVS will take until the end of January.
While Colorado has moved on to the next phase of distribution, which includes people 70 and older, vaccine supply remains very limited, so distribution is expected to take months. Medical and public health experts are encouraging Coloradans to keep washing their hands, wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Hospitals and local public health officials still are working to inoculate frontline health workers — people in Phase 1A — against the novel coronavirus, a goal they expect to reach around Jan. 15.
State officials said they expect to finish much of the next phase of vaccinating moderate-risk health workers and first responders by Feb. 28. The state health department said Tuesday that it hopes to have inoculated 70% of Coloradans ages 70 and older by Feb. 28.
Health care providers are scheduling times for people to get their vaccines and are not accepting walk-ins.
Here are how the different Colorado hospitals and health systems are administering the shots:
The health system is using its patient portal, called My Health Connection, to reach out to patients 70 and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine. Older Coloradans that are not patients at UCHealth but want to be on the list to receive the shots can also create an account. The website will be updated to accommodate non-patients who are 70 and older by the weekend, according to the state health department.
To sign up for a vaccine at UCHealth, go to this website.
Denver Health is working to contact patients 70 and older who have received care at one of its facilities in the past three years. The health system is contacting these older patients via email, text message and their MyChart accounts to schedule times to get their vaccines via a phased approach. Denver Health is only offering the appointments to its patients.
Tickets to receive COVID-19 vaccines should be available to eligible patients by Wednesday, Jan. 6. A time to receive the vaccine will not be scheduled until a ticket is created, according to Denver Health’s website.
Patients can find out more information here and create a MyChart account here.
People without access to the internet or who have difficulty with the online registration will have a ticket created in their medical chart and they can call 303-436-4949 to set up an appointment (although Denver Health asks patients to first use their MyChart account as not to overwhelm the phone line).
The health system will send patients 70 and older who are now eligible for the vaccine an invitation via its patient portal, called MyCenturaHealth. The invitations will be sent out in a randomized fashion, according to Polis.
People can find out more information here.
Banner Health System
Banner Health is asking people to take an online survey at one of its locations across the state to determine if they are eligible for the vaccine and, if so, to schedule an appointment online.
People can do so at these links:
- Center Summit View in Weld County
- Fort Collins Lady Moon in Larimer County
- Banner Family Medicine-Brush in Morgan County
- Banner Health Family Care Clinic in Logan County
Patients at Kaiser Permanente can visit the system’s vaccine page to sign up for the vaccine. People will be placed on a waitlist, which they will receive on a first-come, first-served basis. The health system emailed members on Tuesday saying, “In the coming weeks, you’ll receive information about how to request a COVID-19 vaccine. As vaccine supply allows, you’ll be notified when to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine appointment.”
Coloradans eligible for the vaccine can schedule an appointment to receive their shots at a clinic by going to the hospital’s website.
Boulder Community Health
Boulder Community Health is contacting eligible patients to let them know to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine. As of now, it is opened only to patients, but the provider will expand it to others eventually, according to the state health department.
People can find out more information here.
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