Gov. Polis: State could step in to speed up vaccinating nursing homes

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — As Colorado’s most vulnerable wait for their turn to get the vaccine, Gov. Jared Polis says the state has reached out to pharmacies to offer help in speeding up the process.

“At the end of the day, if they can’t meet a time frame that is aggressive to inoculate everybody that lives and works at a nursing home or senior living facility, the state will have to step in,” Polis said.

On Tuesday, residents at The Ridge Senior Living in Lakewood got their turn at a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 

“I’m glad to get it,” said resident Peter Nelson. “That’s kind of a drag, being limited as to who you can visit.”

There are 223 skilled nursing facilities in the state, and 916 assisted living and other facilities. They’re covered by CVS or Walgreens through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership.

“Everybody I’ve talked to in my membership has a date for (the) vaccine,” said CEO of the Colorado Health Care Association Doug Farmer. 

So far, CVS has completed the first round doses for 123 of its 382 facilities in the state. The pharmacy has a data set that is updated every day at 2 p.m. Mountain Time.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers have reached out to Walgreens for weeks to ask for Colorado-based data, but a spokesperson continues to say they don’t have state specific information at this time.

A spokesperson for Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) says Walgreens is responsible for a total of 758 long-term care facilities in the state. 

Still, the federal program has lagged behind, compared to the state’s progress, which has now moved to Phase 1B.

“I think everybody hoped they would be the very first person to receive a shot in Tier 1A,” Farmer said. “The messaging and potentially the delivery of the actual vaccines into the state of Colorado got out ahead of the program’s ability to deliver them, and that’s where the frustration got created.”

A spokesperson for CDPHE says they expect all skilled nursing facilities to receive their first doses by Jan. 15, and for both pharmacies to administer first doses to every facility in the state by the end of January.

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