By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) – The way it now stands, those in the Denver homeless population must wait with everyone else to get their COVID-19 vaccine according to the guidelines set by the state. For the most part, those experiencing homelessness have gone unvaccinated.

Mayor Michael Hancock doesn’t want them to wait.

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Michael Hancok (credit: CBS)

“I feel the best way to make sure that we don’t have a spread that could overwhelm our system very quickly with 3,000-5000 people in our city, on our streets, and homeless is to make sure they are vaccinated,” he told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.

Right now only about 150 of those thousands of people have been vaccinated, but on this issue the mayor and governor don’t see eye to eye.

On Feb. 9, Gov. Jared Polis said, “It would cost lives to divert vaccine from people that are in their 70s to younger, healthier people just because they are homeless.”

The effort is to get vaccinations done in shelters. Cathy Alderman the head of Communications and Policy for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless told CBS4.

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“We would take vaccine to these shelters where people already are so they would get the second dose in the same way.”

(credit: CBS)

That would require going out of order. Sallinger asked the Mayor, “Might people who have a home who work for a living be resentful if the homeless are given priority?”

He replied, “This is not an ‘either or.’ This is an ‘and.’ We never saw an issue of saying we want to take from one and give to another.”

He said it is to take care of those who are most vulnerable. So far there are no plans to give vaccinations at encampments for those without a home.

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Hancock and other mayors have reached out to the Biden administration seeking help to get the vaccine to marginalized communities. So far that is being done by getting it to community clinics.

Rick Sallinger