Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

Issues & Perspectives

COVID-19 Vaccines for Coloradans: What You Need to Know

Photo credit: Choreograph – 1288813054 – Getty Images

Editor’s note: Since publishing, Coloradans who are 65 or older and educators have gained eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. Check here for the latest information from the state of Colorado.


Key points from this story:

  • Colorado is taking a phased approach to vaccinating residents
  • Coloradans who are 65 years old or older can receive the vaccine now
  • PERA is not a health care provider and does not have vaccines to distribute
  • Check here for the latest information from the state of Colorado

Efforts are underway to inoculate Americans against COVID-19, but only the most at-risk residents are currently eligible to receive their vaccinations.

Determining who can receive a COVID-19 vaccine and when involves a number of factors, including vaccine supplies and availability, location, occupation, and age. Jessica Linart, director of insurance at Colorado PERA, said the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic and the accelerated vaccine rollout have led to a process that isn’t as straightforward as many might expect.

“It’s different from a flu vaccine where it’s widely available and you can go to the pharmacy or to your doctor’s office,” because vaccine supplies are so limited, Linart said. “Eventually this will look more like a normal vaccine process…but it’s not there yet.”

Here are answers to some questions PERA has received from members, as well as links to more information.

Is PERA providing vaccines for retirees?

PERA itself is not part of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process. Federal and state authorities are working with local health authorities and medical providers to vaccinate residents, Linart said, so your state or county health department should be the first place you look to for information.

The providers that PERACare enrollees use might be involved in that process, however.

Kaiser Permanente – one of the insurance carriers that provides coverage under PERACare – is also a medical provider and is providing COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents. Click here for more information.

PERACare’s other carrier, Anthem, is solely an insurance carrier and is not administering vaccines. Those who are enrolled in Anthem’s PERACare plans can still get vaccinated—they can use the resources listed below to find a location.

How do I know if I’m eligible for the vaccine?

Colorado’s vaccine distribution plan is split into multiple phases, with the highest-risk groups in the first phase and the lowest-risk groups in the last phase. The state is currently in Phase 1, which contains several subgroups.

The groups Colorado currently is vaccinating include:

  • Phase 1A
    • Health care workers with direct contact with COVID-19 patients
    • Staff and residents of long-term care facilities
  • Phase 1B.1
    • Coloradans who are 70+
    • Health care workers with less direct contact with COVID-19 patients
    • First responders
    • Correctional workers
    • Funeral service workers

Beginning Feb. 8, Coloradans in Phase 1B.2 will be eligible for the vaccine. That includes:

  • Coloradans who are 65-69 years old
  • Educators (teachers and school staff)
  • Workers in licensed child care programs
  • Members of Judicial/Executive branches of state government
How do I know when and where I can be vaccinated?

This depends on the facility. Some allow you to reserve a spot while others ask you to wait to be contacted when it’s your turn.

To find a vaccine provider near you, head to Colorado’s website. There you’ll find a map of vaccine locations as well as a list of providers by county. If you’re outside Colorado, visit the CDC’s vaccine website and choose your state/territory under “How do I get a vaccine?”

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

No. The vaccine is available free of charge, with no copay, regardless of your insurance plan. A vaccine provider cannot turn someone away because they don’t have insurance.

Beware of scammers who are using the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of people. Don’t give out any personal information online or over the phone, beware of any advertisements that offer to move you ahead your place in line for a fee, and only use official providers listed on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website. Click here for more information from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

I have more questions about the vaccine; who can I ask?

Check Colorado’s website or your county health department for the most up-to-date information.

More information is also available over the phone by:

  • Calling the state’s 24-hour hotline at 1-877-CO-VAX-CO (1-877-268-2926)
  • Calling 211 or 866-760-6489 (available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday)
  • Texting your ZIP code to 898-211

Comments

  1. David Koski says:

    Today’s date is 4 February 2021;

    My Wife is 76 and we done what is possible to find any one who can give The a Covid shot. Margaret has Chronic Kidney Failure. We’re Kaiser members, no one seems to be able to help her. I had gotten my first shot from the V.A.
    My second shot is on 17 February 2029 at 7: 45 A.M.

    • PERA On The Issues says:

      Hi David. We’re sorry to hear of your difficulties. Even if you are eligible, we understand it can be difficult to find a location with availability. Your wife should be able to look for appointments outside of Kaiser. If you live in Colorado, contact the phone number provided in the story to find other locations near you.

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