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As vaccine eligibility expands, some Coloradans worry finding appointments will become harder

Governor Jared Polis
Posted at 5:26 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 20:48:06-04

DENVER — After months of waiting, Gov. Jared Polis on Monday uttered the words so many have wanted to hear.

"Anybody can access the life-saving, highly effective, safe vaccine starting this Friday, April 2" he said at a press conference.

At last, everyone 16 and older can get the vaccine.

"I'm excited to get the shot so that I can see friends and family and just engage in normal life again," said Jared Lee, who's waited patiently for this moment.

But this announcement that gives relief to millions is like a shot of frustration for those who've already waited weeks for a vaccine.

"I feel like we're moving the general public way too quickly, considering that, you know, even the high-risk people that were in [the earlier phases] still haven't gotten their vaccine," said Laura Snipan, who is in Phase 1B.4.

She was ready to get her shot at the mass vaccination event at Dick's Sporting Goods Park this past Sunday, but after waiting in line for several hours, she left.

"I didn't expect to get in there right at 1:30 p.m., of course, but I didn't expect it to be four or five o'clock before we even got back there," Snipan said.

Polis blamed the long lines on a staffing issue with Centura Health's partner, COVIDCheck Colorado.

"The goal with those sites is in and out within 30 minutes. Other sites have achieved that. I'm very confident that Dick's will in the coming days," he said.

Snipan has scheduled a new appointment for Friday at a Walmart an hour south of Denver. She was concerned she wouldn't be able to find another appointment.

As for Lee, he's ready for the challenge that finding one will bring, and he also understands Snipan's concerns.

"I definitely sympathize with people who are concerned about that. But at the same time, the priority is definitely getting shots in people's arms. And I've been patiently waiting my turn, and so I'm happy that everyone has had several weeks that's in higher risk categories ... their opportunity to get their shot," he said. "But we want to make sure that there aren't vaccine appointments being left unfilled."

Polis says patience will be key as more people become eligible.

"We still anticipate by mid- to late-May — so that's only less than two months, six to eight weeks from now — everybody who wants the vaccine will have had the vaccine," he said.

Until then, he warns Coloradans not to take chances.