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DENVER — Starting Friday, every adult in Colorado will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The expanded access is a milestone for the state's vaccination efforts — by far, the largest group of eligible people to receive the shot.
But keep a little patience in mind if you're eager to get the vaccine. The state is still working to vaccinate many people from the large 1.B4 phase, which includes 50-and-older residents and essential workers, such as grocery store employees.
The good news is that Colorado's weekly vaccine supply is only expected to increase as more Johnson & Johnson doses become available, and Gov. Jared Polis estimated that any Coloradan who wants the vaccine should be able to receive at least their first dose by the end of May.
With a rush of appointments expected to happen Friday and into the weekend, we decided to try to answer your questions ahead of time — or at least the main questions you're likely to have.
Who is eligible for the vaccine starting Friday?
All Coloradans 16 and older will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Eligibility for Moderna and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson will be for Coloradans 18 and older.
Does this mean I'm guaranteed to receive the vaccine immediately?
No. However, it does mean you can begin signing up for a vaccine appointment and receive an appointment, depending on demand. As Colorado has expanded vaccine access, the state and health care providers have still prioritized people in previous eligibility groups, if they have not received the vaccine yet. Gov. Jared Polis estimated the vaccine rollout for 16-and-older residents will take 6-8 weeks.
Here's the full list of vaccine eligibility groups, should Colorado have to prioritize based on phases and vaccine supply.
Where can I sign up?
Here's the fun part — finding an appointment.
Currently there are three main ways to sign up for a vaccine in Colorado: Through your healthcare provider, such as Denver Health, Centura, UCHealth and others; through a pharmacy at King Soopers, Safeway, Walmart or Sam's Club; or through a community vaccination site, several of which have been set up in Colorado in recent weeks.
A good place to start would be the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's vaccine information page, which includes information on the pharmacy program, the community sites and list of every location — listed by county — where you can receive a vaccine.
Here's more information on each signup method:
1. Healthcare provider: Most healthcare providers are accepting signups, and they'll then notify you when your appointment has been scheduled. Even if you don't have a healthcare provider, you can still sign up through one. Visit a provider's website to sign up for an appointment. In the Denver area, UCHealth, Centura and Denver Health have been major providers working to distribute the vaccine.
2. A pharmacy: The U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is coordinating vaccine distribution through Walmart, Sam's Club, Safeway, Cardinal and City Market/King Soopers. If you're eligible for a vaccine, you can visit vaccinefinder.org to schedule an appointment and check for vaccine availability. On the King Soopers website, for example, you can enter your zip code and view all nearby locations that have the vaccine in stock.
3. Community sites: Here's the list of links to sign up at community vaccination sites.
They include: Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Ball Arena in Denver, Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, The Ranch in Loveland, the Grand Junction Convention Center, and the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo.
OK, I have a vaccine appointment. What should I expect now?
Your provider — whether it's through your hospital, a pharmacy or a community site — will give you information on when to show up for your vaccine appointment, as well as coordinate your second dose of the vaccine. Some community sites have told people they may have to wait about 45 minutes, while smaller locations have shorter wait times.
Government IDs or other identifying documentation is not required in Colorado — a directive aimed at ensuring non-citizens and others who might not have an ID are included in the vaccination drive.
I'm having trouble scheduling an appointment. Everything seems booked. What should I do?
The vaccine appointment process can be frustrating for some, but state officials have asked people to be patient. If you're in a previous eligibility group, your appointment should be prioritized over the general public. And if you're in the general public, it may take some time to get an appointment on the books. Still, Polis and other officials have said they expect all adults to be able to receive the vaccine by the end of May.
If you're still running into dead ends, the state does have a 24/7 toll-free number for vaccine appointment questions. The number is 1-877-268-2926. About 200 operators — including Spanish speakers — work the line. Operators can help you with information on which providers have the vaccine in your area.
What does the vaccine cost?
Nothing. The vaccine is 100% free. If for some reason a provider charges you for the vaccine, ask for an itemized bill and get a reimbursement from your insurance company, per state guidelines.
Have more questions about the vaccine? Read our general FAQ we've been updating during the rollout.