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Long-term care facilities wait for vaccinations; state expands number of people eligible for vaccines

Many of the most vulnerable, at-risk people living inside long-term care facilities still haven't received COVID vaccines.

COLORADO, USA — As the state broadens the list of people eligible for vaccines, many of the most vulnerable people living inside long-term care facilities are still waiting for their first COVID vaccine doses. 

The state is using pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens to handle vaccinations at those locations and state leaders have said the process is going slower than they’d like.

The state is now making it’s way through the 1B phase of vaccinations, while some counties are still finishing up 1A. The hope is to have all people above the age of 70 vaccinated near the end of February.

At long-term care facilities finally getting the vaccines, the shots bring with them a whole lot of hope.

"It’s been difficult. It’s been difficult for residents not to be able to see those family members," said Luke Baker, executive director of the Cherry Creek Retirement Village in Aurora. "During the holidays especially, when you see the cases spiking and things like that, you’re wanting the vaccine to come as quickly as possible."

An outbreak at the facility in October now gives way to hope this January.

"We lost a couple of residents that we love and care about. They become family. So that was difficult," said Baker. 

The vaccines couldn’t come soon enough. But, even as the state opens up the list of people eligible for their first doses, some of the most vulnerable people living inside long-term care facilities are still waiting.

There are 217 long-term care facilities without first clinics scheduled, according to state data updated on Friday. Cherry Creek Retirement Village got their clinic scheduled last month and said the process has been smooth. 

"We were ready. We were just waiting for the vaccines," said Baker. "It’s hope. It’s been a tough road for a lot of senior communities. This is hope that things are going to come back to where they can embrace their loved ones."

For the past 10 months, the staff have become family to the residents – vaccines provide hope that a hug with their real families isn’t too far off.

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