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Securing an appointment for vaccines at pharmacies still presents many challenges

Though there are several ways to get on a list, getting past that is another feat for some.

DENVER — The Federal Government is looking to pharmacy partners to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccines but securing an appointment is no easy task. 

In Colorado, the Federal Government has designated Walmart and Kroger as federal retail pharmacy partners

More than two dozen Walmart stores statewide were slated to begin vaccinating eligible Coloradans on Feb. 12. 

Meanwhile, additional doses of the vaccine are expected to ship directly to a limited number of local pharmacies beginning today. 

Those looking for a provider can find a list and map of providers by county here.

Until the vaccine supply becomes less constrained, eligible Coloradans need an appointment to receive a shot. Finding an available appointment has been a challenge for Barbara Costa. 

Costa is a defense attorney who became eligible for the vaccine on Feb. 8 under Phase 1B.2 of the state distribution plan as a select member of the judicial branch.

"It's important for me to be able to get the vaccine because I need to be able to see my clients safely in the state detention facilities," Costa said. 

Costa and her colleagues have been scouring the internet at all hours of the day and night for available appointments to no avail.

She's registered with six various providers and has yet to be contacted for an appointment. 

"It's just really frustrating because you just don't know when you're going to find anything out. I don't have any sort of concrete, solid information," Costa said. 

Capitol Heights Pharmacy in Congress Park is also facing uncertainty. 

The independent pharmacy is still awaiting its first shipment of the vaccine.

"We could be helping, and I think we would be able to get a lot more doses out there, a lot faster if they took us into consideration," Carly Callan, a pharmacist at Capitol Heights, said. 

According to Callan, the pharmacy gets about 20 phone calls a day from community members inquiring about the vaccine, many of them from Coloradans 70 and up.

"It's really heartbreaking for us when we have the capability of doing it, but we can't support our community because we don't have the medication," Callan said. 

For the time being, Barbara Costa is focusing her appointment search on large pharmacy providers like Safeway.

"We do understand the challenges with finding an appointment. As soon as we receive vaccines, we immediately put availability at that store location," Nikki Price, Director of Pharmacy Operations for Albertsons Safeway Pharmacies, said.

Price said those appointments are "becoming more readily available" as shipments of the vaccine become more generous. 

"It appears that the allocations are getting a little greater and that we're able to help serve more patients," she said.

According to Price, it will be a couple of months before Coloradans can access the vaccine without an appointment on a walk-up basis.

Until then, Price recommends eligible Coloradans continue "to check back often and just keep looking."

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