Despite Vaccines Available For 70+, Getting The Shot May Be Challenging

Thousands of Coloradans who are eager to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations are learning the process isn’t going to be as simple as calling and setting up an appointment at their own convenience. Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that all residents over the age of 70 are now allowed to receive their vaccinations.

However, with significant limitations to accessing the vaccine at this time, many hospital chains are having to tell patients to be patient.

“Unfortunately, nothing this year has been that easy,” said Michelle Barron, Senior Medical Director of Infection Prevention for UCHealth.

Since Polis’ announcement, receptionists at UCHealth have been inundated with phone calls asking for the vaccine.

“Our switchboards are going crazy,” Barron told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

UCHealth is one of Colorado’s largest medical providers. They were given little warning that Polis’ announcement was coming. The medical provider has already vaccinated more than 26,000 people in just over two weeks. However, the state has not provided the supply needed to meet the demand for vaccinations of every resident older than 70.

“That a huge proportion of patients, believe it or not,” Barron said.

While UCHealth waits for the State of Colorado to secure more vaccine doses, they have begun vaccinating some of those over the age of 70. However, it is not being done at a first-come first-serve basis, and patients cannot simply request it.

“We just pick everybody who meets requirements, and then randomized it just out of fairness. Because I don’t know that there is any other fair way outside of that to say you deserve it more than anyone else. Hopefully everyone will get their vaccine soon,” Barron said.

In order to get your vaccination through UCHealth, if you are one of those who qualified by age, you must have an account through the system’s My Health Connection app and website. The UCHealth app can be found in Apple or Google app stores by searching “UCHealth.”

From there, those who are registered are randomly selected by the automation system.

It is important that users regularly check their emails and accounts through UCHealth. Those selected to be vaccinated are only given 48 hours from the time their receive the selection to sign up. If the window expires their opportunity is given to someone else and they are placed back in line.

Walk-in vaccinations are not happening through UCHealth at this time.

“I got a notice on my phone,” said Carl Lake, one of the residents recently selected.

Lake, and his wife Carol, were both able to get vaccinated.

“It was wonderful,” Carol said. “We were able to get in and get our vaccinations. We will finally be able to hug our grandkids.”

Those who are vaccinated will need to come back in a few weeks for a second appointment for a booster shot. Then a period of time still remains before the vaccine’s full effects kick in. Those who are vaccinated are also encouraged to continue social distancing, washing of hands, mask wearing and more.

“Looking back where we were, and where we are, it is phenomenal that we are doing this right now. It is a testament to science and a lot of hard work,” Barron said.

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