DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis is encouraging Coloradans over the age of 70 to sign up for the coronavirus vaccine through their local healthcare provider.
Polis said the state’s major healthcare providers, including UCHealth, Centura, and Kaiser, have begun contacting people already in their database who are now eligible for the vaccine.
People over 70 who do not have a relationship with a local healthcare provider can register with any provider or community health centers to get access to the vaccine.
“The biggest impact on saving lives, on ensuring we have adequate hospital capacity, is to make sure the very first Coloradans we can protect are those who are at the greatest risk from the virus—age 70 and up,” Polis said during Friday’s update.
The state has compiled a list of major providers, along with signup links, at covid19.colorado.gov.
In southern Colorado, the major providers are UCHealth, Centura Health, and Kaiser Permanente. As of Friday afternoon, only UCHealth accepts signups from people who don’t currently have a relationship with them.
El Paso County has also created a webpage with information specifically for Colorado Springs-area residents. Their page includes links to UCHealth, Centura Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Matthews-Vu.
Polis said hospitals are contacting patients via phone call or email when the vaccine is available to them.
Polis added that due to a limited supply of vaccines from the federal government, it will be several weeks before everyone over 70 gets the opportunity to be vaccinated. The state anticipates that everyone over 70 who wants a vaccine will get one by the end of February.
“There’s not enough vaccine that we are getting from the Federal Government to get this done in one or two weeks,” he said. “There will be some folks who can’t get an appointment for three or four weeks or may not hear back for a week.”
Polis said vaccination clinics and mobile clinics will be set up for people who don’t have Internet access or are otherwise unable to get the vaccine through hospital systems. Some of these clinics have already been held in places such as San Luis and Center.
Polis said retail pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, and Safeway are not currently offering the vaccine at their Colorado locations, though they will be eventually.
The state has also created models on how the vaccine will impact COVID-19’s spread. While there will be a slight impact around late winter, the impact needed to really slow the spread of the virus, particularly among older Coloradans, will likely not occur until April at the very earliest.
“[Modeling] shows you the impact on hospitalizations due to continued strategies to maintain transmission control, including the impact of social distancing and mask-wearing. What this shows you is we continue to see a much greater impact from all of those strategies, until at least the early summer or late spring as far as the number of hospitalizations we can prevent,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy.
1 in 105 Coloradans currently contagious
State Epidemiologist Dr. Herlihy said Friday that about 1 in 105 Coloradans are actively contagious with COVID-19. That’s down from the peak of 1 in 41 in November but still represents a “high level of disease prevalence,” according to Herlihy.
According to Herlihy, “In the last couple of days, you can see a slowing in the decrease of hospitalization.”
She added the data is showing a small increase in cases following the Christmas holiday. It’s still too early to know if there was any impact from New Year’s Eve.
Herlihy said it would be several months before the vaccine has a clear impact on hospitalization numbers.