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Fort Collins is expected to get as much as 3 feet of snow from Friday to Sunday in what could be one of the biggest storms the city has seen. How will COVID-19 vaccine distribution be impacted?
While the state is saying the delivery of vaccine will not be affected because this week’s delivery was completed Wednesday and next week’s won’t begin until Monday, it’s unclear how the storm will affect existing vaccine appointments.
At a March 9 press conference, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he expects vaccinations to continue as planned if the state sees “mild to moderate weather,” but “if there are areas of the state impacted by severe or unpassable weather, people will be notified by their provider and those will be rescheduled within a few days because the vaccine is in hand, they’re ready to go.”
Larimer County Department of Health and Environment spokesperson Kori Wilford said the department is not making recommendations to providers, but the county did cancel its vaccine clinic that was set to distribute 2,500 doses Saturday and Sunday in partnership with local providers.
The county is still giving vaccinations Friday but has a contingency plan in place in case the storm moves in early, Wilford said.
The Colorado State Joint Information Center said the state is working closely with providers and “urging them to notify individuals of any weather-related delays or postponements and to reschedule appointments if necessary so they can occur as quickly as possible.”
The Coloradoan checked in with vaccine providers in and around Larimer County to see what their plans were for the weekend.
Banner Health vaccine clinics in Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland are closing Saturday, Monday and Tuesday due to the weather, spokesperson Sara Quale said.
“We are in the process of calling the 600 patients who had appointments. We hope to reschedule appointments for March 22 and are working with each person to find a time that works best for them,” Quale said.
UCHealth is closing its COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Saturday and Sunday and reaching out to people who had an appointment to reschedule, spokesperson Kelly Tracer said.
“Patients with appointments this weekend do not need to change their appointments themselves — we will call or send messages to everyone to help them reschedule,” she said.
Kaiser Permanente has postponed vaccine appointments for Saturday and Sunday to the same times next weekend and is in the process of alerting those with appointments, according to spokesperson Nick Roper.
This change is only for vaccine appointments. Roper said medical offices will remain open over the weekend.
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Salud Family Health
Salud does not have any vaccine clinics this weekend but is moving forward with clinics Friday and Monday. Laura Schwartz, director of the Fort Collins health clinic, said if something changes, people will be notified and rescheduled, and if events continue but someone can’t make it to their appointment due to weather, they will work to reschedule.
Sunrise Community Health
Sunrise Community Health planned to distribute vaccines Saturday and Sunday in Greeley, but both have been rescheduled “out of an abundance of caution.”
Appointments on Saturday have been moved to Friday, said Chalice Springfield, Sunrise’s spokesperson. Sunday’s operation — an equity clinic in partnership with the governor’s office that was set to distribute 1,000 doses — has been pushed to March 21.
Five major pharmacy chains — CVS, Walgreens, Safeway, Walmart and King Soopers —are distributing vaccines in and around Larimer County.
Steph Berhane, a representative from CVS, said if any pharmacies close because of a weather emergency, patients who had an appointment “will be contacted with a new appointment time or instructions to reschedule when appointments are available.” She did not have information on whether any stores in Northern Colorado had decided to preemptively close.
A Walgreens corporate spokesperson said its pharmacies are following similar protocols and are “actively monitoring the weather.” A patient can contact the pharmacy to cancel or reschedule their appointment if they won’t be at their appointment because of weather.
Safeway pharmacies will be open, said Kris Staaf, Safeway’s regional director of public affairs. She added that clinics may be canceled based on weather or closures and, if that happens, “patients will be notified and appointments rescheduled.”
Walmart pharmacies will also work with patients to reschedule vaccine appointments as needed but are not planning to close. A Walmart spokesperson said the pharmacies will call patients to reschedule vaccine appointments if locations do need to close.
King Soopers pharmacies will operate similarly: If stores are open, pharmacies will be open and appointments will stand, said a Kroger representative; no King Soopers store in Northern Colorado is preemptively closing because of the weather. However, if a patient must cancel due to weather, the store will work to reschedule the appointment. The spokesperson added that if too many appointments are rescheduled and not enough full vials of vaccine will be able to be used, pharmacies may call other patients to reschedule.
Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at email@example.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.