CDPHE, Governor’s Office Update Black & Latino Caucuses on Vaccine & Request Support for Ongoing Efforts

Saturday, January 16, 2021

DENVER - Today, Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Rick Palacio, Strategic Consultant to the Governor sent a letter to the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus of Colorado and the Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus. 

“We reach out today to update the Caucuses on our recent actions to quickly administer vaccines to our most vulnerable populations and to ask for your partnership to inform our ongoing efforts as well as your help as we pursue a $6 million dollar budget request to increase our ongoing commitment to achieving health equity in Colorado. We not only request your support for this budget amendment, but request your thought partnership in reimagining the work that CDPHE does to address health inequities in a more comprehensive way than the department has been resourced to do in the past,” Director Ryan and Palacio wrote in the letter to the legislative leaders. 

Last week, Governor Jared Polis and Jill Hunsaker Ryan Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) sent a letter to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield urging the CDC to allocate a portion of the funds designated in the CARES Act Unemployment Extension (H.R.113) for high risk and under-served populations to the state of Colorado.

Director Ryan and Palacio highlight this action in their letter to the lawmakers and point out that the state is not waiting for the CDC to release these funds to begin the work of reaching these communities and added: “if granted, we will quickly direct the funds towards our goal to vaccinate all Coloradans, especially vulnerable populations.”

“We are proud to say that some of the first seniors in the state of Colorado to receive the vaccine, did so through our pop-up vaccination clinics administered by our community partners in the towns of Center, San Luis and in the City of Denver at Zion Baptist Church. Piloting these pop up community-based vaccine clinics has not only resulted in over 500 seniors receiving the vaccine close to their homes, but we have gained invaluable experience regarding how to execute these vaccine clinics, and are using this knowledge to scale up these efforts. Moving forward, we will be dedicating a portion of each week’s vaccine supply to enhance these efforts. These types of clinics are specifically tailored to serve areas with the lowest income and highest number of senior populations of color in the state. Likewise, it is our goal to reach 50% of communities ranked as such with pop-up clinics by February 28th," the letter continues.

The work of equitable distribution, and therefore equitable health outcomes, must also include full and transparent data from our hospital systems and retail pharmacies, where over 50% of vaccines are administered each week. Therefore, we will be requiring these providers to report the age, zip code, and patient-volunteered race and ethnic data to the state, each week. As retail pharmacies are added to our statewide vaccine program, we have requested that our large pharmacy partners use their best efforts to double their staff qualified to administer vaccines in low income and communities of color throughout the state,” the letter concludes.