Polis defends decision to increase eligibility as many 70+ Coloradans can’t find appointments

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — Just less than half of Coloradans ages 70 and up have received the vaccine so far, and the Governor says the state is on pace to vaccinate 70% of that population by the end of the month.

But frustrations boil for older Coloradans and families as the Governor increased eligibility to Coloradans 65 and up and Colorado educators starting this week, as they scour the internet in search of an appointment.

“They keep telling me ‘Ya you’re in line,’” said 77-year-old Vietnam veteran Michael Lee of Nederland. “I just learned how to use a laptop in January, and I’m not doing too good at it you know.”

Coloradans like Lee have been checking their local pharmacy, health provider, and for Lee the VA to see if he can book an appointment, but no luck.

“I’ve heard that other people have already gotten their vaccinations, and I was just wondering why I can’t get through to the VA or Kaiser,” Lee said.

Coloradans 70 and up have been eligible for more than a month, but even younger family members are still struggling with finding appointments.

“Everyone on Facebook is saying oh I got my vaccine today! And we’re like, we can’t even talk to somebody,” said Lori Crosby, who has been working to get her in-laws appointments through Kaiser and remains on the waitlist. Crosby says she finally ended up finding appointments through a tip from her Nextdoor.

“It is frustrating for those on the outside looking in going okay how come everyone else is getting their shots and we’re not?” Crosby said.

“The wait has been forever,” said Chris England, who has been trying to secure an appointment for both his mother and mother-in-law. They both live in independent living facilities. “It’s frustrating for my mother for sure. She told me as much. It’s driving them crazy, because they’ve been essentially locked in their own independent living cells for a year now.”

Governor Polis says the timing is right to open up vaccine eligibility to the next group of people, so the state doesn’t leave vaccines sitting on shelves.

“As you get towards the latter half of any group, you need to open up the next group, so you don’t create a bottleneck of demand,” Polis said.

Polis says educators and older Coloradans will be able to get vaccinated simultaneously, and won’t be competing with each other for appointments.

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