Veterans, military members left out of Colorado’s $1 million vaccination contest

Patricia Stamper gives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Army veteran Mark Maloney. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images/TNS)
June 03, 2021

Veterans and military members who got vaccinated for COVID-19 through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense are not currently eligible for the five $1 million state drawings meant to incentivize getting immunized.

Gov. Jared Polis announced the drawings last Tuesday and said that everyone vaccinated before June 30 would be eligible.

However, military members and veterans were not included in the state’s immunization database, the Colorado Immunization Information System, that tracks people immunized at pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, drive-up vaccination events and other options and so they are not part of the pool for the lottery.

Some Coloradans unable to see immunization records in new state portal; issue will not affect $5 million contest

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in an emailed statement it is working with both federal agencies to fix the problem.

“We have requested that all federal entities report into (Colorado Immunization Information System) and are working toward a solution,” the statement said.

The agency doesn’t anticipate needing to delay the drawing, the statement said.

El Paso County Public Health data shows more than 45,000 people were immunized through the military or VA and would be ineligible, if state and federal entities don’t land on a solution.

Amy veteran Rich Lewis said he was pleased the state was working on a solution to fix the inequality.

“If it’s a benefit or an opportunity that is offered to the civilian community, of course, the veteran or military community should not be excluded,” he said.

He also noted it’s not unusual for government policy not to consider the nuances of providing equitable care and services to military members and veterans. As a Medicare health insurance broker he has seen a similar discrepancy that provided a benefit to civilians and not to veterans that has been rectified.

The policy oversight could come from siloed systems and some of it from a lack of experience with the military among officials, he said.

“Less than 1% of the population ever served. … The awareness on the government side of things isn’t very high,” he said.

He said he hopes the state will not make the same mistake again.


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