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Healthier Colorado using targeted outreach to try and convince people to get vaccinated

With supply no longer an issue, the focus now has shifted to combating vaccine hesitancy.

DENVER — Supply is no longer the limiting factor stopping people from getting vaccinated. Now the focus is on combating vaccine hesitancy.

There are now thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses available in Colorado every day, with the challenge shifting to making sure enough people show up to get them.

"We’ve reached a point where supply really isn’t much of an issue," said Jake Williams, Executive Director of Healthier Colorado. "It’s more about persuasion and logistics."

Healthier Colorado is a nonprofit advocacy organization that usually works in the political world fighting to pass legislation. They’re betting the tactics they use to get people to support a campaign will also work to help end the pandemic.  

The group uses voter data to target its outreach based on where people live. Working with the state, they’ve made hundreds of thousands of calls and helped schedule more than 2,000 appointments.

"One of the things that we’re good at is turning people out to vote. We’ve discovered that using those same skills to try and get people vaccinated is a pretty good use of time," said Williams. "Really there’s two groups. The hardcore hesitant and the convincible. Hopefully, if we can get enough of those convincible to get vaccinated, then we can reach herd immunity and get back to normal."

RELATED: Latinos in Colorado have disproportionately low COVID vaccination rate

Counties with low vaccination rates are seeing the highest case rates right now, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Places like El Paso County, Pueblo County, and Weld County are areas Healthier Colorado is now focusing on.

Marlene Gordo-Luna is one of the volunteers helping to schedule appointments and dispel myths. When one person she spoke with found out the vaccine was free, she helped sign the whole family of six up for appointments.

"It’s not just the person I call it’s the whole family," said Gordo-Luna. "It is heartwarming and I just like to help the community out there."

RELATED: Rural Colorado county health official worries about vaccine hesitancy after J&J pause

Healthier Colorado is planning to begin doing more outreach over the coming weeks. That might include going house to house knocking on doors and setting up stands in front of grocery stores.

"Instead of focusing in on the specificity of people’s objections, it’s been far more fruitful to focus on the reasons of why you’d want to get vaccinated in the first place," said Williams. "There’s an important line between persuasion and arm wrestling. We don’t arm wrestle. If people don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s up to them. They’re not going to get vaccinated."

Convincing people, one conversation at a time.

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