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Colorado's underserved communities playing 'catch up' in vaccine distribution

State officials continue to work with local organizations to equitably distribute vaccines. The state health department said they've completed 379 equity events.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado state officials are working with local organizations to ensure vaccine equitability. In the last months, several churches served as clinics to bring vaccines to underserved communities.

In an emailed statement, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) stated they've completed more than 379 vaccine equity clinics so far. During his press conference Monday, Gov. Jared Polis said 75 more equity clinics were scheduled up to April 6 that will administer more than 30,000 doses. 

The Colorado Vaccine Equity Task Force helps reach underserved communities and ensures they have accurate information regarding the vaccine. Ozzie Grenardo is the tri-chair for the task force and said health leaders need to do a better job at making sure people know where vaccine sites are, getting the word out and having a consistent, stable place for people to go. 

"We're doing better, but we need to do more," said Grenardo. 

He said when vaccines were initially being distributed without prioritization of those hard hit communities, data suggested those communities were receiving the least amounts of vaccine. 

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"Then when the state recognized that in others, then there was a really good push, what I thought, in planning in how to remedy that," he said. "The issue becomes then we’re behind the mark, and then we’re playing catch up which is a problem."

"The most challenging part was the recognition that communities of color had suffered more from a health perspective, as well as from an economic perspective, and that those doses of vaccines should either be dedicated to those communities and or then delivered to those communities," said Grenardo.

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According to data from the state health department, white people account for 72% of those vaccinated and make up 67% of the population. Meanwhile, Hispanics make up 21% of the population, 8% have receive a vaccine. 

In Denver, Black people make up 11.5% of COVID-19 related deaths in Denver, and make up 8.5% of the population. 

Monday, Polis announced four mobile vaccine buses to better reach medically underserved communities. It's not clear when or where the buses will start to provide vaccines, but Polis said it would be sometime in the next week or so. 

Polis also said mobile vaccine clinics will launch Friday. 

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