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COVID Vaccine: Denver Moves Focus From Quantity To Localized, Targeted Population

DENVER (CBS4) - With more than 70% of residents vaccinated, the City of Denver is shifting its coronavirus strategy and closing some testing and vaccination sites. The new process moves from an approach that emphasized quantity and is becoming more focused.

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"This is good news, and I'm really looking forward to... to shifting our resources," said Cali Zimmerman, the Emergency Management Coordinator with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. "Now we can target our resources towards folks who work different hours and maybe haven't been able to get the vaccine."

On Friday, the vaccination site at Montbello High school closed. Closures are planned at Barnum Rec Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Rec Center, Swansea Rec Center and John F. Kennedy High School by the end of the month.

"If people did get the first dose and were told that they were going to be able to get access to a second dose through us at the same location, we wanted to honor that commitment and make it as easy as possible for those communities. Everyone that's been getting vaccinated at our community sites recently, they've been told where they can find their second dose if needed," Zimmerman said.

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The city and state are shifting to a more localized approach and trying to find the additional 30% of the population that hasn't received their shot yet.

"Those are people that we're going to meet by either going to them and reducing other barriers or by having them go to their primary care doctor and really learning a lot more hands-on about what the vaccine is and what the risk is to their individual health," Zimmerman said.

As COVID-19 testing has become more accessible and less utilized, Denver's larger sites are also closing. But officials are still urging anyone with symptoms to get tested. Zimmerman says some sites used to conduct hundreds of tests each day and some are now down to just a few dozen.

"It really indicates that there's a lot of other ways that folks are getting tested and or they're a little bit less concerned because we've seen a significant uptick in vaccinations," Zimmerman said.

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Testing is still important because cases have dropped enough where contact tracers have been able to help drive down infections.

"This will really help curb some of those outbreaks especially at workplaces and will also just help keep families safer too. We can be really intentional about how we're tracking this down, informing people so that they can quarantine if they've been exposed," Zimmerman said.

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