Of the 541,000 people vaccinated so far, about a third are over 70. That means with over 500,000 Coloradans over 70, hundreds of thousands are still without.
Some people who signed up for Phase 1.B of the coronavirus vaccine in Colorado are still waiting to get their shot. Now teachers, child care workers and people 65+ are signing up and getting vaccinated under the expanded Phase 1.B.2.
Retired police detective Michael Gargaro holds a piece of paper indicating where he is in line for a vaccine.
“I’m number 48,575 on the virtual line.”
That’s still likely quite a wait for a shot through his health care provider Kaiser Permanente. Gov. Jared Polis has called for completing 70% of the population over 70 by the end of February. But now with vaccinations starting for teachers and people between 65 and 69, people like 70-year-old Michael wonder if there will be COVID vaccines for them.
“I’m a little personally disappointed in the speed and the efficiency at which it’s been distributed,” said Gargaro.
Gargaro and his wife are still mourning the loss of her cousin two weeks ago to COVID-19 in Colorado.
“Airline pilot, black belt in karate, 67 years old still going after it hard and heavy and heavy, then something like that happens and I’m three years older than him and I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’” said Gargaro.
There are all kinds of circumstances involving people over 70 who are yet to be vaccinated. Ninety-five-year-old Vern Sidler is another.
“We all understood that it would be done at the same time or approximately the same time,” said Sidler as he sat in a room at the Alta Vita Independent Living Center in Longmont.
Like other independent living centers, it was not on the Phase 1.A list like assisted living facilities. Planners figured people in so-called independent living centers could venture out and get vaccines.
“I think the assumption might have been, that people that live in independent living can go to a pharmacy like everybody else, but we’re learning that that’s not the case,” said Chana Goussetis, spokesperson for Boulder County Public Health.
Many do not drive. The center is now coordinating with a health care provider to come in and vaccinate dozens of residents who are yet to get the vaccine.
“We’re smart enough to know that to vaccinate 100 people here takes a logistics problem of no small amount,” said Goussetis.
With vaccinations starting for teachers and people 65 and up, vaccine providers are faced with competing demands for limited supplies.
UCHealth, which has administered 140,000 vaccinations so far, says it is still prioritizing people over 70. People should call or sign up online at UCHealth.org.
Gargaro is in a cue with others 70 plus at Kaiser Permanente. His wife has a much lower number, about 16,000. But she is entered in a different cue for younger people. Vaccinations for her group have yet to start. She will not get a vaccine before her husband, explains Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser says they are not yet vaccinating people 65-69.
But starting the next groups is likely to lead to difficulties in vaccine delivery. The CDPHE in a statement said it is depending on providers to implement prioritization in “the spirit it was created.” But it’s made it difficult in communities where there are still vast number of people over 70 to vaccinate.
“We would like to finish up the group that we’re on before we move on. But because of the statewide prioritizations, rural areas, they’re already done and they’re waiting for the state to catch up,” said Goussetis.
If you are 65 years old or older and a Colorado resident call this new toll free call center to get on a list for a vaccine:
1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).
UCHealth is using My Health Connection, their online patient portal, to communicate with patients. If you do not have an active My Health Connection account or are new to UCHealth, sign up to be placed on a list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available for your phase, according to the state’s plan.