Denver Opens First Community-Based Vaccination Site

Published on February 18, 2021

DENVER – The City and County of Denver will open the first of at least four community-based sites at Montbello Recreation Center on Thursday, Feb. 18 in partnership with Denver Health and Hospital Authority (DHHA).  

“Vaccinations have been taking place in Denver thanks to many partners, including health care providers, the State and local public officials hosting temporary pop-up sites. Our goal is to create greater predictability and access with community-based sites that are more permanent, “Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “And to support equity, we are focusing our sites in communities that have been disparately impacted by the virus.”  

 “The reliability of a fixed vaccination site in Montbello directly addresses race and equity concerns in a proactive manner. This is a vital next step to protect our most impacted and vulnerable community members,” said Council President Stacie Gilmore (CD-11). 

 All community vaccination sites in Denver will require pre-registration made via the community partners for each site. Residents are encouraged not to visit the vaccination sites without pre-registration first, unless there is an access to technology barrier that we will address with each community vaccination host.  

The intent of the city’s focus on equity driven strategies at our community-based sites is to improve vaccine access for our older adults, people with disabilities, immigrant and refugee communities and racial and ethnic minority groups that are increased risk of dying from COVID-19. These equity strategies are deployed to ensure no one in Denver is left behind as greater quantities of the vaccine are made available. 

Denver is proud to partner with several trusted community organizations to get these initial locations operational in some of the city’s most undeserved neighborhoods. Partner organizations are charged with outreach and registration in those communities to ensure that the city is reaching the people that need to be reached. The community-based sites are a very focused effort given the current distribution rate of the FDA-approved vaccines while the city awaits more rapid and broad-based distribution to everyone in Denver. 

For residents who live outside of the targeted communities for these sites who are eligible to receive the vaccine, information on where and how to sign up to receive the vaccine is available on the city’s vaccine website

At the Mayor’s direction, Denver reactivated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to maximize planning and coordination for a more effective vaccination strategy. As part of this activation, Denver has been working across the public and private sectors to develop a strategy that will enhance broad access and targeted outreach to ensure that marginalized communities are not left behind as greater quantities of the vaccine are made available. 

Denver has a three-pronged strategy to support broad and equitable vaccination access for its residents:  

  1. Support the existing community healthcare system: Consistent with the State’s approach, the city will continue to support vaccination access at existing healthcare infrastructure within communities, including pharmacies and neighborhood clinics. This will build broad availability of the vaccine at trusted and known healthcare sites that are already in the community. 

  2. Bridge healthcare system gaps by establishing at least four place-based and stable community vaccination sites: the city is seeking to partner with private healthcare providers and the State to establish long-term community vaccination sites at recreation centers or other locations in communities without adequate access to existing healthcare infrastructure. These sites would operate for the next six months at single locations where resources can be efficiently utilized and not duplicated, with predictable hours and reliable registration software, partnering with community networks, non-profits, churches, city council members and trusted neighborhood entities, in order to reach more people. 

  3. Use mobile vaccination teams to bridge any remaining equity gaps: the city intends to reach organizations that are unable to access healthcare infrastructure or community vaccination sites by using mobile vaccination teams. These teams will focus on equity and go onsite to provide vaccine to community groups and individuals that may have barriers to healthcare access. The goal of Denver Mobile Vaccination team is not to vaccinate large numbers of people, but instead deploy an equity focused approach to intentionally address racial and ethnic disparities impacting communities of color, older adults, people with disabilities, and our immigrant and refugee communities based on the increased risk of Covid-19 hospitalization and rates of death. 

Denver will also explore ways to utilize these teams to reach those with access and functional needs that may not be able to travel to a site to be vaccinated. Equity is defined as a systemic endeavor, resulting in equitable opportunities where race and ethnicity can no longer be used to predict life outcomes that emerge from contracting COVID-19.  

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