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People who got first vaccine dose away from home look for new providers for second shot

Some Coloradans traveled across the state or even to other states for a COVID vaccine and want to get a second dose close to home. That's not always possible.

DENVER — Some hospital systems in Colorado have been getting more calls from people looking for a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, even when they didn't receive the first dose from that hospital system.

Dr. Richard Zane, with UCHealth, said this could be for a myriad of reasons.

"We've had people moved to Colorado but got their first dose someplace else and want to have their second dose," said Zane. "Or, people got an appointment in Pueblo and La Junta, went there for their first dose, don't want to travel back there for their second dose."

Zane said another scenario is people got their first dose administered at a place that didn't schedule a second dose and they are now looking for one.

This issue would apply only to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose.

The ask is complicated for providers for various reasons.

"We are primarily moving to almost entirely Pfizer for the two-dose, so it's very difficult for us to arrange a second dose of Moderna," Zane said for his site.

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UCHealth also has to confirm when a person received that first dose, which type of vaccine it was and if they can secure a second dose within the right time frame. They have to do this without compromising doses for other people who are going to them for both doses from the get-go. 

Even if the person has the vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, things can get tricky.

"That would work from the perspective from if they have their card, then we have to build a solution, an electronic solution, so it's representative in the electronic health record, as well," said Dr. Zane.

Even with vaccine shipments increasing, there is still the issue of allocations. 

People have been calling SCL Health and Denver Health, too.

Ann Boyer, the chief medical Information officer for Denver Health, wrote: 

“We are seeing an increase in calls of people asking only for second doses. Vaccine allocations for second doses are typically based on number of first doses given, so we have to be careful about the number of second doses we take on if we didn’t provide the first dose.

The process to get patients a second dose only is complex and requires lots of resources. We try to accommodate our patients who have gotten first doses out of state or who are unable to get second doses at their original site, we ask those patients to work directly with their PCP to do that. We have also partnered with some long-term care facilities to help get their patients and staff second doses who are unable to get them through their original dose providers.”

"If you receive a first dose with us you will get a second dose with us," said Zane with UCHealth. "There is no accounting for that second dose for people who received it somewhere else. If we can get an allocation and arrange we will make every effort to do so. But it's really not advised to do. So please, please get the second dose where you received your first dose, schedule both appointments at the same time."

Zane said it's critical people finish their vaccine course and get both doses. Otherwise, you aren't considered fully vaccinated, and there are still variants circulating.

He is also asking people to remember if you've signed up on multiple lists and may have multiple appointments, to cancel the ones they don't intend to keep. 

The Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment shared this statement: 

"We encourage providers to schedule the second dose at the time of the first dose, but we are aware that some Coloradans may face unique circumstances in which they are unable to receive the second dose in their vaccine series from the same provider as the first.

Ultimately, any provider and any of the six community vaccination sites should accept people who need second doses. A person should get the same brand of vaccine for their second dose, and can call providers to see which types they are administering.

We have advised providers to not turn away eligible Coloradans if they have the correct vaccine to meet the needs of someone trying to make an appointment for their second dose.

People seeking a new provider for their second dose can locate local vaccine providers online. Our call center handled 37 calls yesterday related to second doses out of a total of 1,600, and agents are available to assist Coloradans in finding providers for their second dose. Supply and available appointments remain limited, and we ask for patience when trying to find appointments. The call center can be reached at 1-877-CO-VAX-CO or 1-877-268-2926."

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