DENVER — While Denver has hit the milestone of 70% of its residents vaccinated, the work isn't done yet, and county health officials have shifted their focus to the remaining 30% who haven't gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We’ve been really focused on that goal of 70% based on the president’s directive and have been so thrilled to see that we actually got there," said Cali Zimmerman, emergency management coordinator for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE).
Denver County is one of 12 Colorado counties to have reached the milestone of a 70% vaccination rate.
While it was an exciting milestone to reach, Zimmerman said DDPHE has shifted its focus. Earlier this year, the focus was on getting people appointments amid a limited supply of vaccine. Now that vaccines are widely available, Zimmerman said the county is working on bettering messaging campaigns to reflect that.
"Vaccine is available at the pharmacy down the street, and hopefully soon at your primary care provider too, and that will encourage folks I think to try to seek it out," she said.
DDPHE is also focusing on ensuring vaccines are accessible to different community groups that aren't seeing high vaccination rates, Zimmerman said.
"When we look at, for example, people that identify as white, we see everyone is at that 70% mark across all the age groups that are eligible," she said. "But if you look at the folks that identify as Black or Latino, we end up seeing it’s a little bit less than 70%."
Zimmerman said that partnering with trust community groups, nonprofits, churches and community leaders has helped bridge vaccine disparity gaps. She also said breaking access barriers, such as transportation has helped, too.
"There’s a lot of different groups that are conducting mobile vaccination efforts," she said. "We’ve vaccinated over 10,000 people so far, through this effort."
Denver County will also focus on making vaccines accessible to people in congregated living facilities, such as incarcerated people and those experiencing homelessness in shelters, according to Zimmerman.
"Moving forward really is going to be not losing sight of the overall number and really focusing on different groups that have been historically underserved and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19."
While 70% is not a bad vaccination rate, Zimmerman said it's not necessarily the end goal.
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