Vaccination Requirement Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About the New Public Health Order

Why is Denver implementing a vaccination requirement?

While Denver’s current vaccination rate is more than 72%, cases of COVID-19 are increasing in our community including cases of the highly contagious Delta variant. More of our residents need to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus before fall and winter months, when respiratory illnesses traditionally increase. Vaccination is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 and bolster our economic recovery. 

 

Why are you implementing this requirement now?

COVID-19 cases are increasing across the country and in our region, and new data shows that the Delta variant strain is many more times infectious than previous strains. While Denver’s vaccination rate is relatively high and the current hospitalization rate is low, we need to act now before cold and flu season to vaccinate as many people as possible to protect against new strains of the virus, save lives and bolster our economic recovery.  

Scientific evidence shows that unvaccinated people are fueling community transmission of variants and are jeopardizing the health of the entire population, including those who are already vaccinated. Achieving a high vaccination rate is our best protection against more restrictive public health measures and economic impacts.   

Is Denver requiring masks per recent CDC guidance?

Face coverings are required in certain high risk settings in Denver:

  • Face coverings are required for everyone age 2 and older indoors at all childcare facilities and schools (pre-k through grade 12) regardless of vaccination status
  • Face coverings are required on public transportation, including public transit networks, airplanes, buses, trains, taxis, Ubers and Lyfts regardless of vaccination stat
  • Face coverings are required for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated staff, residents, patients, and visitors in correctional facilities, shelters for people experiencing homelessness, emergency medical, and healthcare settings
  • In other circumstances, the decision to wear or require masks is at the discretion of individuals and each business or facility. We ask that if you enter a business or facility who requests you wear a face covering, please comply with that request. 

For those who are vaccinated, a mask can provide additional protection, and for some people, might provide peace of mind. People who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised are STRONGLY encouraged to wear a face covering and practice social distancing in public places.

The City and County of Denver’s guidance varies from recommendations of the CDC. Why is that?

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) reviewed the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommending that everyone wear face coverings indoors. While we respect this guidance, we’re taking an even stronger approach by requiring vaccination among employees in high-risk settings and City and County of Denver employees. 

Is this new vaccine requirement legal?

Yes. As the accredited public health agency for the City and County of Denver, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) has the authority to issue public health orders to protect the public from immediate and imminent risk to their health and safety. Colorado law requires compliance with executive and public health orders. 

Who is responsible for enforcing this requirement?

Each employer subject to this public health order must decide how they will enforce this the vaccination requirement with their employees. Disciplinary action, in consultation with the employer's human resource department and legal counsel, is one of the consequences employers may choose to impose in order to gain compliance with the public health order.

Those who do not comply with the vaccination requirement are subject to enforcement action. DDPHE is the regulatory agency that has enforcement authority over this requirement pursuant to Chapter 24 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code, and vaccination and exemption records must be made available to DDPHE upon request.

I’m concerned about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, what should I do?

The best thing to do is get vaccinated and to encourage those around you to get vaccinated. The vaccine is free, appointments are readily available, and no documentation or insurance is required. COVID-19 vaccines decrease the risk of infection by 95% and almost eliminate the risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death. 

If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should immediately self-isolate and be tested. For more information about testing and vaccination locations, please visit https://denvergov.org/Government/COVID-19-Information

Employee Questions

Who is required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in Denver?

Personnel who are onsite or in the field providing services to the following entities:

  • Hospitals, clinical settings, primary care settings, longer-term care facilities, and other locations where health care services are offered
  • Shelters for people experiencing homelessness, including day and overnight shelters
  • Correctional facilities, including jails, detention centers and community corrections sites and residences
  • Schools, including post-secondary and higher education, and childcare centers
  • Any entity providing home care to patients
  • Any entity providing first responder services
  • City and County of Denver

Personnel is defined as individuals who provide services onsite or in the field, as an employee, contractor or volunteer. In the field means out in the community, as opposed to onsite or from home.

When does the vaccine requirement go into effect?

Employees, contractors, and volunteers must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.

When should I get vaccinated to meet the requirement?

You should receive your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine no later than Sept. 15 to ensure you are fully vaccinated by the Sept. 30 deadline. 

What happens if I don’t comply?

Each employer subject to this order must decide how they will enforce this requirement with their employees.  Disciplinary action is one of the consequences employers may choose to impose in order to gain compliance, which is the goal of this order.  Employees with medical or faith-based reasons for not getting the vaccination will need to work with their employer to determine if they are eligible for an accommodation.

Businesses and individuals that do not comply with the vaccination requirement are subject to enforcement actions. Complaints can be submitted to DDPHE through 311. 

What if I have a medical or religious reason that I can’t be vaccinated?

Employers should provide reasonable accommodations to persons who have either medical or religious exemptions from the vaccine.  Each employer will be responsible for making that determination. 

I volunteer with a currently required agency, but I am not employed by them. Do I have to get vaccinated?

Yes, individuals who volunteer for agencies or entities described in the Public Health Order are required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.

Does this requirement include K-12 students?

No, children do not fall under the requirements of the vaccine requirement outlined in this Public Health Order. However, all eligible people are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, including those 12 and older.  

Does this include faculty and staff at higher education institutions?

Yes, faculty, staff, and volunteers at higher education and post-secondary institutions are covered by the vaccine requirement in the latest Public Health Order. Students at higher education institutions are not covered by this Public Health Order but may have vaccine requirements laid out by their specific colleges or universities. 

If I'm unionized, does this still apply to me?

Yes, all employees in the listed categories are required to follow this mandate.  

There are reports of employees testing positive for COVID-19 even though they were vaccinated (before the mandate).
What is the guidance for these employees if this were to occur?

The current guidance is for anyone testing positive (vaccinated or unvaccinated), they will need to isolate for 10 days. Denver Department of Public Health and Environment's case investigations and contact tracers will be in contact with each individual who tests positive with any further guidance.

Proof of Vaccination/ Vaccine Availability Questions

How do I show proof of vaccination?

Your vaccination card is proof of vaccination. You can also access the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) Public Portal to view and print an official record of your immunizations. More here: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/prevention-and-wellness/disease-and-injury-prevention/immunization/for-the-public/immunization

You should follow your employer’s process to show proof of vaccination.  

What if I can’t find my vaccination card?

If you got your vaccine in Colorado, patients and guardians of minors can now use the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) Public Portal to view and print an official record of their immunizations. More here: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/prevention-and-wellness/disease-and-injury-prevention/immunization/for-the-public/immunization 

You can also download the myColorado App and click on the myVaccine Record section. The app may require additional log-in information to access the record the first time. 

How do I replace or get a copy of my vaccination card?

You can reach out to your vaccine provider to see if they can offer a replacement. 

If you got your vaccine in Colorado, you can also use the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) Public Portal to view and print an official record of your immunizations. More here: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/prevention-and-wellness/disease-and-injury-prevention/immunization/for-the-public/immunization 

Can I use the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) as proof of vaccination?

Yes, you can both view and print an official record of your immunizations. More here: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/prevention-and-wellness/disease-and-injury-prevention/immunization/for-the-public/immunization 

What if my vaccination record is not in the Colorado’s immunization database?

If you are unable to access immunization records through the Public Portal, please call 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926) for assistance. 

Where can I go to become vaccinated?

Vaccines are free and readily available, and no documentation or insurance is needed. To learn more and find out where to get a free vaccine: 

Is the vaccine free? Do I need to show proof of insurance?

The vaccine is free. Providers should not ask you to pay for the vaccine or other administrative costs, even if you don’t have health insurance. If you do have insurance, your provider may seek reimbursement from your health insurance company. Regardless, you should not be charged. 

The vaccine has only been approved for “emergency use” is it still safe to use?

The Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe and have been confirmed to meet the Food and Drug Administration's rigorous scientific standards. The vaccines have been through more safety testing than many other mandated and fully approved vaccines.  Vaccine manufacturers have met all necessary safety requirements and are now only waiting on the approval of the paperwork, which can take many months. We know the vaccine is safe, and we need to act now to avoid another spike and more fatalities. COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. Delaying vaccination until full FDA approval of the vaccine is not a reasonable exception to this Public Health Order.

Compliance/ enforcement-related questions

What happens if I am in a required category and I am not fully vaccinated by Sept. 30? Can I be fired from my job if I don’t get the vaccine?

Each employer subject to this order must decide how they will enforce this requirement. Employers may choose to impose disciplinary action if employees are not fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. Employees with medical or faith-based reasons for not getting the vaccination will need to work with their employer to determine if they are eligible for an accommodation.

How can I report a business that is not adhering to this Public Health Order?

Call 311 to report concerns related to non-compliance of public health orders.

How do I document a faith-based or medical reason to not be vaccinated?

Each employer should establish processes through which employees may seek faith-based or medical exemptions from the mandatory vaccination requirement. Employees seeking such exemptions may want to contact their human resources department for guidance.

Employers' Questions

How should I collect vaccination information?

Employers should work with their human resources partners regarding maintaining vaccine information as it may be considered medical information. Employee vaccination information must be made available to DDPHE upon request.

What counts as proof of vaccination?

Vaccination cards are proof of vaccination. Proof can also be obtained through the Colorado Immunization Information System (CIIS) Public Portal. More here: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/prevention-and-wellness/disease-and-injury-prevention/immunization/for-the-public/immunization 

What exceptions can we make for employees who cannot get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons?

Employers should work with their human resources partners and legal counsel for help in determining what may constitute reasonable accommodations in any given situation. COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. Delaying vaccination until full FDA approval of the vaccine is not a reasonable exception to this Public Health Order.

What types of accommodations can be made for people with medical or religious exemptions?

Required face coverings, physical distancing, and routine testing are types of accommodations that can be provided.
Learn more about potential accommodations from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.

What documentation must be kept to meet the requirements of religious or medical accommodations?

An employer should maintain documentation of the information and supporting documentation that employees submitted in support of their exemption requests,  any other information or documents the employer considered when evaluating the requests, and any communications documenting the decision.

Can an employer choose to approve an exemption without putting any mitigation measures in place?

Employers who knowingly circumvent the vaccine mandate by failing to properly enforce it among their workforce, and thereby place other employees and/or the public at risk can certainly be considered to be in violation of the public health order.

If an employee refuses to get vaccinated, what should I do?

Employers should work with their human resources partners and legal counsel to determine how they will enforce compliance.

Who is responsible for enforcing this requirement?

Each employer subject to this public health order must decide how they will enforce this the vaccination requirement with their employees. Disciplinary action, in consultation with the employer's human resource department and legal counsel, is one of the consequences employers may choose to impose in order to gain compliance with the public health order.

Those who do not comply with the vaccination requirement are subject to enforcement action. DDPHE is the regulatory agency that has enforcement authority over this requirement pursuant to Chapter 24 of the Denver Revised Municipal Code, and vaccination and exemption records must be made available to DDPHE upon request.

My organization operates in Denver but is not based in Denver, does this requirement apply to me?

Yes, personnel working in the City and County of Denver are required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.

Are visitors required to be vaccinated?

No, this does not apply to visitors. 

Does the vaccine mandate in the Public Health Order apply to all City and County of Denver contractors, even those who supply goods and have no human contact?

The Public Health Order (PHO) applies to all individuals who provide services onsite and/or in the field to or on behalf of the City on a contractual or volunteer basis.

Contractors providing towing and board-up services out in the community on behalf of the City and County of Denver are required to comply with the PHO. In addition, individuals who are under contract to deliver goods like uniforms and office supplies onsite to city facilities are considered to be providing a delivery service to the city and are thus required to comply with the PHO. Entities that manufacture and supply the goods, like Staples and Galls, are not required, but are encouraged, to vaccinate all other employees.

 

Does the vaccine mandate in the Public Health Order (PHO) apply to all members of boards and commissions and all volunteers who provide services to or on behalf of the City and County of Denver?

Yes. The PHO applies to all individuals who are members of boards and commissions and all volunteers who provide services to or on behalf of the City and County of Denver. Therefore, all individuals who fall within either of these two categories must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status by September 30, 2021. 

To be clear, the PHO applies to all members of mayoral boards and commissions. A list of these boards and commissions subject to the PHO can be found online here. Other volunteer boards or commissions that are organized by the city and provide a service to or on behalf of the city would need to be vaccinated if they are conducting their work on-site at a city property or in the field. 

The mandate does not include self-selected community groups comprised of citizens offering personal input or experience on city projects or initiatives are not considered city employees or personnel and are thus not subject to the PHO. Examples include RNOs and other community-based organizations where membership is not decided by the city. In addition, community members who attend informational and interactive presentations prepared and presented by city staff or personnel are also covered by the PHO.

Can City and County of Denver employees continue to participate in physical meetings led by community-based organizations who request the city to present at these in person meetings?

All city employees and city personnel who provide a service to or on behalf of the city must comply with the PHO, meaning that any city employee  or personnel participating in physical meetings led by community-based organizations should either be fully vaccinated or have obtained a medical or religious exemption to vaccination by September 30.

Are volunteer and community members participating in City Council led physical meetings required to be vaccinated in order to participate?

Volunteer and community members participating in in-person City Council meetings are not required to be vaccinated to participate.

General Vaccine Questions

What is the FDA approval status of the vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA for the prevention on COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are both approved for emergency use for this same age group. All of the vaccines are safe and have been confirmed to meet the Food and Drug Administration's rigorous scientific standards. 

The Pfizer vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization for individuals 12 through 15 years of age.

Are the vaccines safe to use?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination reduces the risk of COVID-19 and its potentially severe complications. The vaccines have been through more safety testing than many other mandated and fully approved vaccines and the manufacturers have met all necessary safety requirements. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have each received emergency use authorization from the FDA and are waiting on the approval of the paperwork for full approval.

Where can I get vaccinated if I live in Denver?

COVID-19 vaccines are readily available through pharmacies and healthcare partners across the city. All three COVID-19 vaccines are free to all Denver residents, and no insurance or identification are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available here: https://denvergov.org/Government/COVID-19-Information/Vaccination/Get-a-Vaccine, or you can text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish, to get the contact information of three nearby locations with available vaccines. 

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

Some people experience short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve quickly including pain at the site of the injection. Others may develop systemic reactions like headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or fever lasting for a day or two. Keep in mind that these side effects are indicators that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving any vaccine.

Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I receive?

Yes, you can determine which vaccine to get. All three are readily available through pharmacies and healthcare partners across the city. More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available at: https://denvergov.org/Government/COVID-19-Information/Vaccination/Get-a-Vaccine or you can text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish, to get the contact information of three nearby locations with available vaccines. 

Is it true that COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue?

No, that is false. None of the vaccines -- the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine contain fetal cells.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility or increase the chances of a woman miscarrying?

COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. A sophisticated disinformation campaign has been circulating online, claiming that antibodies to the spike protein of COVID-19 produced from these vaccines will bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy. This disinformation is thought to originate from internet postings by a former scientist known to hold anti-vaccine views.

While there are no formal studies, the best evidence comes from women who got sick with COVID-19 while pregnant. While data clearly indicates pregnant women are at higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of increased miscarriage rates. During natural infection, the immune system generates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. Thus, if COVID-19 affected fertility, there already would be an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.

If I have already had COVID-19, do I still need to be vaccinated?

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Research has not yet shown how long you are protected from getting COVID-19 again after you recover, but we do know that vaccination helps protect you even if you’ve already had COVID-19.

When should I get a booster vaccine?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) the week of August 23, 2021 for both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to allow for the use of an additional dose for certain immunocompromised individuals. Coloradans who need an additional dose should be able to access them immediately at enrolled state and federal vaccine providers. Additional doses are free. No identification, insurance, or proof of medical history is required to receive an additional dose. Coloradans may self-report their immunocompromising conditions to vaccine providers. More information is available here.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots this fall subject to FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.

DDPHE will await guidance from CDC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment prior to releasing plans for the administration of booster doses for the general public. The updated information from HHS does not impact the booster shot process for those currently eligible as an immunocompromised individual. When we receive additional information and have established processes at the State level, information will be released to providers and the public.