By Dillon Thomas

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – After being told a COVID-19 vaccination qualifies Coloradans to win one of five different $1 million prizes, many asked how the state knows who is eligible. Colorado health officials and Gov. Jared Polis said the state has a database to track adults who are currently vaccinated.

(credit: CBS)

However, as Coloradans started researching their own records, many noticed their vaccinations were either not listed on the state’s website, or they were not listed as a known resident of Colorado.

The state’s database system, found online at https://ciis.state.co.us/public/Application/PublicPortal, can be a helpful tool for residents to find their vaccination histories. After providing a name, date of birth, gender and phone number, most native Coloradans are able to access their entire vaccination records.

Some who were unable to access their records, or those who did not see their COVID-19 vaccinations listed, said they felt the state may not be fairly entering them for the $1 million prizes.

“I knew that (the database) existed. But, I didn’t know there was a lottery associated,” said Frances Crawford, a vaccinated Northern Coloradan.

Frances Crawford (credit: CBS)

She attempted to access the state’s database via her smartphone, an Android. However, like many others, she was unable to easily change the year when asked to provide her birthday. The only option was to click month-by-month until she landed on her birthday.

“I can’t enter the year manually,” Crawford told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “It’s going to take me a year to get back to 1955 by this method.”

Crawford would have had to click the screen more than 780 times to get back to her proper birthdate.

(credit: CBS)

After tapping the screen for a few moments, only going back a couple years, Crawford switched to an iPhone. There, she was able to more easily submit her data. However, when she asked for a confirmation code to be sent to her phone the state’s website didn’t recognize her as a resident.

“It says, ‘We were unable to find a record matching the search criteria supplied,'” Crawford said.

She attempted to fill out the form multiple times again, with different contact methods, and was eventually told her access attempts had maxed out.

Veterans around Colorado contacted CBS4 saying they were not seeing their vaccination records displayed on the state’s database after receiving them via the Veterans Affairs medical office. Some in Northern Colorado said they received their vaccinations in Wyoming as it was the closest VA to their homes, and that was not reflected on their records.

CBS4 reached out to Gov. Polis’ office for comment on this story but did not hear back. Banner Health, one of Northern Colorado’s largest medical providers, said they’ve submitted all of their vaccination statistics to the state. Joan Ivaska, Senior Director of Infection Prevention for Banner, said the practice is decades old.

“We’ve done this for a lot of years,” Ivaska said. “We actually automate this so it takes out any human error risks.”

Ivaska said data is sent to the state immediately after each vaccination. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment declined to be interviewed on the topic, but provided the following written statement:

“We are aware that some individuals are having a difficult time verifying their immunization information through the online Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) portal. It is most likely because the information the provider reported does not exactly match what individuals are entering in the portal. When searching through the portal, the following fields must match exactly what the provider entered: first name, last name, date of birth, gender and mobile phone number and/or email address. So if someone goes by John Smith but their medical provider has their name as Jonathan Smith that is what they should use to search. In addition, if a provider misspelled a name or had a typo in the entry, there will not be a match.

While there could be a slight lag between vaccinations and providers entering the information in the system, we are confident the majority of providers are entering information in a timely manner. 89% of all COVID doses have been reported to CIIS within 72 hours of the vaccine administration date.

Individuals who entered their information in the portal and believe they entered it exactly as the provider did should contact their provider to ensure their information was entered accurately and to confirm how it was reported to CIIS. If that’s not possible, they can contact the CIIS Help Desk to verify they are in the system and/or to update their contact information on their CIIS record.

The Colorado Comeback Cash drawings are intended to provide additional reward for getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Several states are using this approach, and in Ohio, which has had a drawing in place for the longest period of time, there has been a 28 percent increase in vaccinations.

We look forward to seeing increases in our vaccination rates as well and are working with vaccine providers to track increases. There is a slight lag in reporting vaccinations to CIIS, so we will have a better sense of the increase in a few days. We encourage Coloradans to get vaccinated as soon as possible so they can be eligible for the five upcoming drawings. Winners will be announced on June 4, June 11, June 18, June 25, with the final winner being announced on July 7. Coloradans must be vaccinated by June 30 to qualify to win on July 7.”

Crawford says she hopes the state will fix the issues before the millions are given away.

“I want to see it myself. You can’t trust the database if you can’t see it yourself,” Crawford said. “If it’s not going to work a lot of people are going to be unhappy, everybody wants to win the lottery.”

Dillon Thomas