Ring Ring — This Is The State Of Colorado. Want To Get Vaccinated?

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Nurse Karla Kelley holds up a syringe of COVID-19 vaccine while her colleague Nicole Retana snaps of photo her her on her phone at North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton, Dec. 17, 2020.

Calls are now going out from the state to the unvaccinated to encourage people to set up an appointment for a free COVID-19 shot.

The state’s health department, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, isn't trying to sell you anything. They’re just trying to persuade you to get vaccinated, so the calls are not considered a violation of its No Call Registry.

Incident commander Scott Bookman said the state will call almost 500,000 people who haven't yet gotten vaccinated. The number — and the numbers — come from the Colorado Immunization Information System and other publicly available records.

“We have statutory limitations on how we can use this information, and we're only using it to reach out to people to make sure that they understand where they can get this vaccine and to answer any questions that they might have,” Bookman said.

There’s one way to tell the incoming call is legitimate and from the state: It will come from “CO-VAX-CO,” or 268-2926.

According to a health department spokeswoman, when call agents help individuals make a vaccine appointment, they will ask for limited personal information, but will not request credit card information, social security numbers or any banking information.

The calls, which started Monday, are going out to Colorado residents age 18 and older who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine. The callers will provide information about vaccination, help schedule appointments at local vaccine sites, and answer questions about the COVID-19 shots.

“Because the calls aren’t encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods or services, they do not appear to violate the Colorado No Call List law,” said Lawrence Pacheco, the communications director of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, via email.

As of Thursday, about 57 percent of all Coloradans had received at least one dose. And nearly half have been fully immunized.

Bookman said the state is doing all it can to reach and make sure residents have all the information they need. 

“We know that this vaccine is the key to ending this pandemic. We know that this vaccine will keep people from being hospitalized and people from dying,” he said.

The state sees the campaign as a key step toward Colorado’s goal of having 70 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4. President Joe Biden has made that a top priority, but it's also one that the White House acknowledged Tuesday is unlikely to happen nationwide.

“I’m excited that Coloradans will have a new opportunity to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines to help them make informed decisions about their health,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, CDPHE executive director, in a press release. “It’s normal to have questions about COVID-19 vaccines. These outgoing calls will provide Coloradans with accurate information and help them find a free vaccination appointment in their neighborhood if they choose to be protected from COVID-19.”

CO-VAX-CO operates a call center that has been taking calls about COVID-19 vaccination.

The state said information will be available in multiple languages. Coloradans can continue to call the vaccine hotline at 1-877-CO-VAX-CO (1-877-268-2926). The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Also, the health department is sending text and email notifications to people between the ages of 18 and 29 years old who may be overdue for their second COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier, CDPHE sent similar messages to people over the age of 30.

Text messages will be sent from the text number 45778 on June 22 and 25, and emails will originate from [email protected] on June 24 to notify people whose current records in the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) indicate they may be more than 42 days past their first dose. 

The messages will include information on how to find a vaccine provider to schedule a second vaccination.

These reminders will be sent in English and Spanish. Anyone with additional questions after receiving a message can contact the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 877-268-2926. It offers translation services in more than 100 languages.

What To Know About COVID Vaccines In Colorado