Colorado Just Started A COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline, But The Wait Times Already Have People Hanging Up

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Medical assistant Yasmin Tellez preps a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at Globeville’s Clinica Tepeyac. Jan. 26, 2021.

Updated 9:00 a.m., 2/2/21

Gwen Laine called the Colorado COVID-19 vaccine hotline and waited and waited and waited. Then, after 45 minutes, she hung up and decided she would try again the next day, but the wait was even longer.  

“I’m sure I’m like many, many other senior citizens that I am so frustrated,” the 78-year-old of Littleton said. “To me, getting that shot just gives me a little hope. I’m a widow and I’ve been pretty much alone for 10 months and I’m kinda reaching the end of my patience. I am so ready to have a life again.”

The toll-free number is 1-877-CO-VAX-CO or 1-877-268-2926.

The hotline launched on Jan. 25 and has received 31,505 calls since it opened. To meet the high demand, the state is tripling the number of call representatives from 50 to 150. As of Feb. 2, the hotline is a 24-hour, seven day per week service with a callback option so people wouldn't have to stay on the phone if the line is busy.

Call center staff are trained to answer COVID-19 vaccine-related questions, provide information about vaccine providers and give general information about the virus.

The long wait times have added to frustrations for those trying to get vaccines. Many seniors have also been turned away from vaccination appointments because the appointment was in a county other than where they live, which the state has tried to fix

Laine is not alone in facing long wait times on the hotline to get information about the vaccine. On Wednesday, the average wait time was 34 minutes and the overall average wait time is 20 minutes according to the state. When CPR News called the hotline Thursday afternoon, the wait time was 49 minutes.

Others have reported waiting an hour or more. 

Mark Brown, who also lives in the south Denver suburb of Littleton, is in his early sixties. His mother is 90 but she hasn’t been vaccinated yet. He called the hotline to ask some questions about how to ensure that she gets vaccinated, but he gave up on the calls before getting to a representative.     

“Overall I’m kind of disappointed with the communication from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment and the governor’s office because they tell kind of a happy story when they suggest that all you have to do is toodle on over to this website and you’ll be fine or call this number and you’ll be fine,” he said. “I don’t think they’re scaled up enough to handle the volume yet, and I wish they would just say that.”