UCHealth doctor urges patience as state enters next vaccine phase

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s major health care systems are working to keep up with the state’s changing plans for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday the state would enter phase 1B — allowing more people to become eligible to receive the vaccination. The updated distribution plan from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) also adds people age 70 and older to phase 1B, followed by other essential workers, government officials and frontline journalists. 

“It’s well-intended. They want people to get the vaccine. There’s obviously a lot of interest but I think it’s more complicated than people realize,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, head of infection prevention with UCHealth.

The CDPHE has yet to specify how those who are eligible under 1B will receive the vaccine — particularly those who will not receive it through their employer. Barron says she understands why some individuals may be frustrated by the apparent lack of clarity.

“People are excited to qualify but we don’t have enough vaccine to be able to say, ‘Sure, come on in.’ The process will be very driven by having an appointment and a specified time,” said Barron.

UCHealth has not scheduled appointments for those in group 1B yet, but Barron says they’re in the outreach process and will contact people in their database who qualify. It’s too early to determine how long that process will take.

“The long-term goal will be if we partner with others to be able to reach those who don’t have affiliations with health care systems. I think that’s an important aspect of this,” said Barron.

HealthONE posted on social media shortly after the governor’s announcement, saying its facilities are still in the process of vaccinating colleagues and providers with the COVID-19 vaccine doses they have received, adding, “due to limited inventory, the vaccine is not currently available for members of the community.”

The CDPHE released an update Wednesday night, saying for those who do not receive the vaccine through an employer, public health agency or federal program, the state is still working to determine which additional providers will vaccinate members of group 1A and 1B. Some counties are planning mass vaccination clinics. 

Barron says their primary care officers are not currently set up to administer the vaccine, and contacting them likely won’t help patients at this time. She encourages people to be patient as more information is released.

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