91-year-old Coloradan feels he’s slipping through the cracks of vaccine distribution system

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s a big week for Colorado seniors, according to Governor Polis who on Tuesday addressed the concerned seniors unable to schedule an appointment for a vaccine, claiming no more doses will sit on a shelf.

“We will use every dose to give to people over the age of 70 that want it,” said Polis. “We are doing everything we can do get every vaccine we can get in the arm of a Coloradan over 70 years old.”

Polis said 120,000 seniors are expected to be vaccinated this week. That’s 1 in 5 Coloradans over the age of 70. 

The reassurance from Polis comes after the Governor said Monday, he wants to vaccinate about 40,000 more people for the first time by using stored-up second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

While Polis ensured every senior will be inoculated by the end of February, for some it feels like too long of a wait.

Mary Walker, 79, lives in her Highlands Ranch home with her husband Ed. Ed Walker, 91, always thought he would live until 105. Growing weaker by the day while quarantining at home, he’s not so sure he’ll reach his goal.

“Ed was very active a year ago but he’s spent a year sitting,” said Mary. “We have literally been the house since last February.”

Mary was chosen by UCHealth to get the first round of vaccine on Jan. 11. Happy to have been picked, she wishes it would have been her husband, whose age makes him far more feeble.

“I asked if I could give up my spot and give it to Ed,” said Mary. “When I called, they said they had no mechanism in place to do that. I could give up my spot but I couldn’t replace myself.”

Mary has put Ed on at least six lists for various vaccine clinics. Each time, a provider tells her to open a patient portal and wait to be selected.

Centura Health told the FOX31 Problem Solvers it’s working as quickly as possible. This week they will administer second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to healthcare workers who fall in the 1A Phase. Centura Health will use any additional doses in vaccine clinics, to continue vaccinating individuals 70 and older.

“Centura Health is working as quickly and efficiently as we can to vaccinate members of our community who are age 70 years and older,” said Kevin Massey with Centura Health. “We are sending invitations to this population through a randomized process to ensure equitability and equality.”

For seniors like Mary Walker, a randomized approach can’t ensure those most in danger, like Ed, get the shot sooner.

“He is 21 years past the minimum age,” said Walker. “Ed can’t be the only one stuck at home deteriorating.”

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