By Alan Gionet

(CBS4) – The weekend’s vaccination of 1,000 people in a parking lot north of Coors Field was getting a positive review by the people who set it up.

(credit: CBS)

“This is really the light at the end of the tunnel,” said UCHealth’s chief innovation officer, Dr. Richard Zane.

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The next steps will now be contacting people who will be eligible for shots over two days — Jan. 30 and 31 — in the same setup. The work of contacting them is already underway. The people who will receive the vaccine were chosen at random from approximately 200,000 over 70 who have been patients of UCHealth over the past two years, or who have signed up for the health care system’s “My Health Connection.” There are others as well put in the mix. UCHealth says it has taken all who have registered for the shot, even those who have not been patients.

“The biggest challenge here is that there just isn’t enough vaccine,” said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID incident commander Scott Bookman. “We’re getting allocations each week in the tens of thousands of range not in the hundred, the millions that we want to get it to,” said Bookman.

UCHealth said it believed after the weekend pilot, that it could vaccinate up to 8,000 at the Coors Field parking lot site. But that was entirely dependent on how much vaccine they got from the State of Colorado. Late Monday, there was nothing indicating that Colorado would be expecting any additional vaccine doses from the federal government beyond what it had been told to expect. That would mean the number likely to be vaccinated will stay at the 5,000 per day as was originally announced. But a spokesman for UCHealth, Dan Weaver, said it was possible the hours would be shorter than the first weekend, because they believed they could get people through more rapidly.

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(credit: CBS)

“We’re excited about the mass vaccine event,” explained Dr. Jean Kutner, UCHealth’s chief medical officer. “And as we are issuing invitations to make vaccine events we’re giving them the choice because we want people to be able to access whatever location is more convenient for them.”

UCHealth will offer people the ability to get a vaccine at one of its clinics, or in additional offerings at so-called mobile vaccine events that it brings to underserved communities.

“The Coors Field mass vaccination event will allow us to get to a lot of people which … is shots in arms and it may not work for some people because of the location,” explained Kutner. Some people don’t have cars to drive to in-car vaccination sites. The pandemic, realizes Kutner, has his underserved communities hard, but getting the vaccine out to those communities is not easy.

“The easy thing is to get vaccine to people who already have access. That’s actually relatively easy. This is going to be the hard work community by community, group by group in some cases individual by individual to make sure that we are affording access to everybody.”

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People over 70 can sign up with UCHealth to get in the queue for vaccines by going to UCHealth.org. For others who don’t have internet access or have difficulty with the processs, you can call, (720) 462-2255.

Alan Gionet