DENVER (KKTV) – The Colorado health department says it is imperative all Coloradans have access to the COVID-19 vaccine to reach community immunity — and are calling on providers not to turn anyone away.
That includes anyone who cannot show a state or government-issued ID, such as non-citizens.
“We are grateful for your willingness to disseminate vaccines to Coloradans as quickly as the federal supply chain allows,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a letter to providers made public to media outlets Sunday. “… We want to be sure that in the haste of getting vaccines out, we don’t unintentionally create barriers to access. We hope it is a shared goal to dismantle barriers to access, such as unnecessary identification and patient affiliation requirements.”
The letter continued that providers can ask patients to provide their date of birth to verify age, and can ask for a name and address. But providers cannot make showing an ID a requirement for getting vaccinated.
“Requiring proof of ID, especially a government-issued ID, can exacerbate distrust and accessibility inequities for many critical groups. This requirement is a barrier for people who are unable to get identification or have trouble accessing services that issue IDs, such as those who are undocumented, experiencing homelessness, have a disability, or others on the margins of society who are unable to get an ID.”
The state warns any provider who does choose to require ID could be stripped of access to vaccine supply.
Providers should also take people at their word when given an age and address, so as to speed up the vaccine rollout, CDPHE said. The state is currently operating under phase 1B, which is focused on seniors 70 and older. Officials have said the goal is to have 70 percent of Coloradans in that age group vaccinated by the end of February.
“The state is recommending that providers abide by an honor system, taking the individual’s word on age, residency and other eligibility criteria, and using their discretion to determine whether the individual is eligible for vaccination in the current priority phase,” the letter reads.
Providers have been given a Jan. 22 deadline to establish a website and phone number where people can sign up for vaccines, to further increase efficiency. This includes providers who do not have a vaccine supply yet but expect to be getting one down the road.
The full letter can be read here.
Health officials across the country say time is of the essence getting vaccines into arms. The CDC is warning a new COVID variant first detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March. While the strain does not appear to be vaccine-resistant or to cause a more severe illness, it is significantly more contagious than the version that has swept the globe this past year — a version itself that is already highly-contagious. To date, Colorado has reported six cases of the new strain.
It’s now become a race against time to get as many people vaccinated as possible to halt the spread of this new variant.
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