Access to COVID-19 vaccine continues to be an exercise of persistence for older Coloradans Leave a comment

After nearly a month, 92-year-old Greeley resident Shirley Jacoby finally secured an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Diana Taylor, a younger Greeley senior citizen, continues her weeks-long search for her first shot while navigating a healthcare system obstacle course.

On the same day last week Jacoby received confirmation of her appointment through UCHealth, the 78-year-old Taylor was embroiled in her quest to set up a date for the vaccine.

Taylor began the day with a text message notifying her she had 48 hours to get in for a shot. By the time Taylor followed instructions and placed the call, the appointments were filled up, and she was on a waiting list.

Diana Taylor, 78, stands for a portrait outside her home in Greeley Feb. 4, 2021. Taylor, despite being eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of group 1B.1 due to her age, is still struggling to sign up for a vaccine appointment. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

“I thought oh finally I’m going to get shot,” she said. “Oh, no. No. I called right away. The woman said we’re full. Everyone got in before you.”

Taylor’s and Jacoby’s efforts to find a highly coveted shot underline a well-known theme of the mass inoculation process: older residents who lack online access and face competition in an expanded field of vaccine candidates.

On Jan. 29, Gov. Jared Polis announced the state’s plan to add Coloradans ages 65- to 69-year-olds to the vaccine timeline beginning Feb. 8. Residents 70 and older, who were previously prioritized, are still in the queue. The governor’s announcement late last week also included elevating educators, namely “student-facing employees” in school districts on the priority list.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported this week less than 35% percent of 70 to 79-year-olds have received the 635,000 cumulative doses from Pfizer and Moderna administered statewide.

Senior citizens have an option to receive some in-building assistance from librarians at High Plains Library District. Community relations and marketing manager James Melena said given Weld County’s orange, or high-risk status, on the state’s COVID-19 dial, library staff will provide older visitors with help on a lighter level rather than engaging in deep and lengthy lessons.

Masks are required when visiting a library. For more information on library locations, hours and COVID-19 restrictions, visit the district website at or call 1-888-861-READ (7323).

“There are at-risk seniors who might not be tech savvy, and it’s compounded in this situation, and it’s unfortunate,” Melena said.

Another avenue folks can try is through the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline, reachable at 877-268-2926 (CO-VAX-CO).

Jacoby received assistance from her son with the online task of searching for and scheduling an appointment, though she said that required him to spend countless hours on his computer and on the phone on his mother’s behalf.

David Jacoby’s efforts were thwarted at one point by Shirley’s decision to cancel the first appointment he scheduled because it was out of town.

“He wasn’t happy with me,” Shirley Jacoby said. “I didn’t know what the weather would be like.”

Jacoby’s new appointment later this month is in Greeley.

Taylor, too, has tried multiple avenues to find an appointment. She’s spoken with doctors and a pharmacist, who warned her she’d likely have to wait until March. Taylor began her inquiry with her primary care physician, and the process soon came full circle when the fourth doctor in line — a specialist — referred her back to the primary care office.

She’s called phone numbers at UCHealth and Banner Health, and she’s followed her phone for text updates. Taylor said her next step is to again call UCHealth to see if she can get a place in line.

“It’s pass the buck, pass the buck,” Taylor said. “I never get in. I get usurped by who gets there before me.”

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