By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – The city of Denver is setting up community vaccination sites in an effort to make distribution of doses more equitable. The first site will open in Montbello on Thursday.

“We’re seeing a little bit of increase in vaccine access. We’re also partnering with the state health department,” said Cali Zimmerman, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. “That’s why we’re looking at specific neighborhoods where we can establish an ongoing weekly, or few times a week location where they can access vaccine.”

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The clinic is only for people who pre-registered and who live within two Montbello zip codes; 80239 and 80249. The city says it’s been working with community partners to find people eligible for the vaccine and get them signed up.

“It really is about grass roots communication. Our primary strategy is to work with trusted community partners that know their constituents. We continue to hear about vaccination hesitation and a lot of that in communities of color is around trust. These opportunities we have, to have clinics in neighborhoods like Montbello, it lowers that anxiety around trusting,” said Erin Brown, the Chief Equity Officer for the City of Denver.

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The city is hoping to model the vaccination clinic after localized testing it conducted a few weeks ago. The Montbello location will also be the beginning of multiple sites throughout the city to increase vaccinations in needed neighborhoods.

(credit: CBS)

“We want to be deliberate in serving folks in 80239 and 80249 zip codes, not just because we know, but because data tells us that this is a neighborhood that had deep, deep disparities during COVID and still do. And we’ve have seen lack of vaccinations occur for the approved phase,” Brown said.

“As we move forward it’s going to be critical that folks who have limited access to resources whether it be transportation, time to sit on the internet to register for different locations or to show up with short notice. We want to create a system where that’s not the limiting factor why someone does or doesn’t get vaccine,” Zimmerman said. “We know it’s a frustrating situation for a lot of folks. We’re excited to see people are excited for the vaccine. But we continue to acknowledge there are barriers and unfortunately it’s just a supply issue right now.”

One limiting factor in making this site more functional or having more sites like it soon is the limitation of vaccine. The city hopes that changes and is working with the state to get a supply that is specifically allocated for equity events just like this.

Jeff Todd