King Soopers acknowledges mistake turning vaccine-eligible Coloradans away based on residency

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — The governor’s message was loud and clear: if you’re 70 and older, you’re eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. But some eligible Coloradans have been turned away from their vaccine appointments based on where they live.

“It’s just incredibly frustrating,” said Barbara Calhoun from Centennial. “We’re on now seven different lists and virtually nothing.”

Calhoun tried finding a vaccine through King Soopers website, checking every location from the mountains to the metro in search of an available appointment. 

Finally, she was able to secure an appointment for herself and her husband at a Monument location, but just before her appointment, she received a call.

“Saying, ‘Sorry, we can’t give you the immunization because you don’t live in El Paso County,'” Calhoun said.

Julie Touhy faced a similar problem, but was turned away at her appointment. The Denver resident signed up for a vaccination at a King Soopers in Thornton, and was asked where she lived by the pharmacist.

“At that point rudely told me since I don’t live in Adams County, I can not get the vaccine,” Touhy said. “I booked online and I’m here, you can’t deny me. And he said indeed he could and he would and he would be in trouble with the county if he administered the vaccine to me.”

That shouldn’t happen. 

Gov. Jared Polis says providers who are turning people away based on where they live, insurance or other factors could face consequences.

“Issue a very stern warning to that partner and it could very well have consequences about our future partnership,” Polis said.

A spokesperson for King Soopers shared the following statement with the FOX31 Problem Solvers:

“At King Soopers we’ve been prepared and ready to play an active role in helping distribute the vaccine in collaboration with public health officials and community partners. As one of the most-accessible health care partners in Colorado, our goal is to assist Coloradans’ with this life saving vaccine. In these rare instances, we fell short of our promise, and we’re committed to making it right.  We have redoubled our efforts to make sure our health providers are aligned with our mission.”

The Problem Solvers reached out to Safeway, and a spokesperson shared:

“Our goal is to vaccinate anyone who needs a shot who falls into the current phased population group.  We are not aware of any one being turned away because of a county of residence. We agree with the Governor and no Coloradan be should be refused.”

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