Colorado residents ages 70 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but public health officials are struggling to scale that operation up as quickly as possible.
Douglas County hospitals and clinics are finding several struggles in the vaccine rollout, including limited supply and communication barriers.
“Online has been easiest to set up (appointments) but that’s inadequate for this population,” said Kaitlin Wolff with Tri-County Public Health Department.
That’s why Tri-County is in the process of increasing their phone support operations and scaling up their call center staff, said Wolff, who is also a public health nurse in charge of coordinating the health department’s vaccine plan.
Right now, the best thing for eligible Douglas County residents to do to get the vaccine is visit Tri-County’s website, which has the most up-to-date information on where vaccines are available and how to get an appointment. That information can be found at tchd.org.
Residents can also call a variety of Tri-County phone numbers to set up appointments including 2-1-1 and 866-760-6489. State phone numbers for this purpose are 303-389-1687 or 877-462-2911.
As of Jan. 22, providers including UCHealth, Centura Health, Kaiser Permanente and STRIDE Community Health Centers were listed on Tri-County’s site as having vaccine appointments. Pharmacies such as Safeway and King Soopers were also listed.
In order to secure a vaccine, residents must make an appointment before showing up to these locations. While some residents have found all appointments filled when trying to sign up, Wolff said persistence can be an effective method to secure an appointment.
“While most things like a flu shot can be obtained at your own primary care office, the supply of COVID vaccine is just much more controlled,” she said. “That’s why when people call their doctor, almost no primary care facilities have the vaccine right now.”
In order for a vaccine site to be approved to distribute the inoculation, the site must meet a variety of qualifications.
“We intend to expand the number of sites,” Wolff said.
Tri-County is also offering a mobile vaccine team specifically for residents who have transportation challenges such as those in rural areas or independent living facilities.
Tri-County asks for patience as they work to increase the scale of vaccines and to regularly visit their website for more information, Wolff said.
As of Jan. 25, more than 25,000 Douglas County residents had received at least one of the two required vaccine doses, according to data from Tri-County. That’s almost 7% of the adult population in the county.