DENVER — Many sites, including Dicks Sporting Goods Park and Water World, were some of the first to provide relief to thousands at the height of the pandemic. On Thursday, both locations, along with other large COVID-19 vaccination sites, will shut down.
“We feel well prepared for this transition,” said Diana Herrero, deputy director for disease control and public health response for the Colorado Department of Public Heath and Environment (CDPHE).
The state health department says this is part of the governor’s roadmap to moving forward.
“We have almost 82% of eligible Coloradans have gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and we're just in a different place where we have broader immunity,” said Herrero.
Although state health officials say accessibility will not be impacted by the removal of these sites, Dr. Ross Kedl with CU Anschutz is concerned about scaling back too quickly.
“One could make the argument that over time, [COVID-19 vaccines] could become much more limited and access would be more through insurance or through other payment methods. We're definitely not there yet though," said Dr. Ross Kedl. "So access and distribution of vaccines is still critical in ensuring that this doesn't come roaring back out of the background."
The Tri-County Health Department has many state-run sites in its area and says it has seen a dramatic decrease in people using them.
“We are seeing just over about 300 individuals being vaccinated per week at these large community sites. So, it's been a significant reduction as compared to the thousands we were seeing many months ago,” said Michele Askenazi, director of emergency preparedness response and communicable disease surveillance for Tri-County Health.
Although the large sites are going away, Askenazi says she's confident access won’t be impacted.
“As we continue to move into that more sustainable model, the work is not done and we know that there's still more to do and to make sure that it's accessible to our communities," Askenazi said. "We're looking at other strategies to still have access to mobile vaccine clinics where we can go into some of our harder to reach communities."
If needed, the state says it could have all large vaccination sites back online in just about a month.
The state health department says close to 2,000 vaccine clinics are still enrolled in the vaccination program.
Community testing sites will remain open for the next couple of months across the state, as will the state’s vaccine buses.