There’s A COVID-19 Vaccine Fair In Denver This Weekend. You Probably Aren’t Invited

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Pharmacy clinical manager Dr. Suzanne May holds a syringe of COVID-19 vaccine at North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton, Dec. 17, 2020.

After a successful trial run last Sunday, UCHealth now plans a mass vaccination event at Coors Field this weekend for seniors 70 and older.

Chances are you will not be getting a shot there.

That’s because there are about 370,000 people 70 or older in Colorado. Roughly 200,000 of them are registered with UCHealth, and are seeking a vaccination. UCHealth will have 10,000 doses of vaccine to inject Saturday and Sunday.

That means there are 20 people registered with UCHealth for each dose available in this weekend’s vaccine effort. Those are not good odds.

“I think that 'competing for one of the 10,000 spots’ is probably not quite the right way to look at it,” UCHealth Vice President of Communications Dan Weaver said in response to questions from CPR News. “Especially since people cannot register to receive the vaccine just at Coors Field or any of our other clinic locations.”

Instead, Weaver said the mass vaccine clinic was just one part of a broader strategy to get vaccine to as many people as possible. The provider is making appointments as fast as it can for people 70 and older, notifying them when and where to go to get vaccinated.

While 10,000 will be chosen from the list for this weekend’s event and notified to attend, others are chosen at random for appointments each day at UCHealth’s clinics around the state, where the provider says they can give 5,000 shots per day.

But while the state gave UCHealth an additional allotment of vaccine for the upcoming event, that simply means that 10,000 doses were diverted from some other use so the people registered with UCHealth got them. It doesn’t mean the state experienced a vaccine windfall.

This week, the state will be getting about 80,000 first doses, with another 40,000 or so ticketed for second shots for frontline health workers and seniors. If that continues, it would mean Gov. Jared Polis’s guess that the state will get through 70 percent of the senior population by the end of February is probably on track.

It won’t go faster because there is not likely going to be enough vaccine to make it go faster. Not for some time anyway.

“Colorado is ready to immediately use three to four times as many vaccines as we are currently getting each week right away,” Polis said in a statement. “The sooner Colorado gets more vaccines, the quicker we can get them into arms, and the faster we can help our small businesses and economy build back stronger. We’re ready and welcome renewed federal assistance to get the job done.”

Governors across the country are making similar pleas. 

Besides UCHealth, other Colorado health systems have similar waiting lists, with many Colorado seniors likely signed up at several of them hoping to improve their odds. Anyone can sign up, regardless of whether you are a patient of system-affiliated doctors. There is no cost for the vaccine, which was paid for by the federal government.

The state also just created a hotline for vaccine information at 1-877-CO-VAX-CO or 1-877-268-2926

CPR News reporter Andrea Dukakis contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: A limited number of CPR News journalists have started to receive vaccinations according to the state's prioritization of essential frontline workers.