Why aren’t there more mass vaccination sites in rural Colorado? Problem Solvers investigate

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — Eighty-one-year-old Richard Bush sits in his Longmont home, scouring the internet and making calls in hopes of finding a place to get vaccinated close to him.

“Look if you want a shot, you got to drive 50 miles to get it,” Bush said.

Bush’s dilemma isn’t unique, as many Coloradans over the age of 70 struggle to land an appointment to get the vaccine, but he raises the question: why aren’t there more opportunities to get drive through vaccinations in rural Colorado?

Mass-vaccinations sites from both UCHealth and SCL Health saw success in Denver over the past couple weekends, vaccinating thousands of Coloradans, but Bush takes issue with these sites only being located in Denver so far.

“It uh doesn’t seem balanced,” Bush said.

Spokespeople for both Larimer and Weld counties confirm with the Problem Solvers the two will be working together for a vaccination site, but say it’s currently in the planning stages and won’t be near the scale to the operation at Coors Field. 

Vaccine allotment is a big obstacle for rural counties to overcome when trying to create large-scale sites, because doses are distributed based on population. Counties like Larimer and Weld don’t get the same amount of vaccines as metro-Denver counties, and so these areas will likely have to pool resources to pull off a large site.

A spokesperson for Boulder County Public Health says they are working on plans for mass vaccination sites “in case we need them” but are relying on their hospital networks to provide vaccines at this time. 

A spokesperson for Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) shared the following statement with the Problem Solvers:

We are planning clinics in partnership with providers and community organizations across the state. They vary in size. We have had mass vaccination clinics in partnership with UCHealth, National Jewish Hospital, and SCL Health. We are working with Centura to host a clinic in El Paso County. We have hosted several health equity clinics including in Glenwood Springs, San Luis, Center, Denver, and Aurora.  We have partnered with organizations such as Servicios de la Raza, STRIDE, Voces Unidas de las Montanas, and the United Church of Montbello.

CDPHE

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