Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Skip to main content

Colorado Access is Closing the Vaccination Gap of Denver’s Medicaid Community – Which is Nearly 20% Below the County Rate – With Creative Outreach, Community Partnerships and Member Engagement

The Local Nonprofit Organization Uses Data on Demographics and Social Determinants of Health to Adjust Outreach Strategies, With Promising Results

DENVER – October 26, 2021 – Nationwide, Medicaid enrollees are getting vaccinated at significantly lower rates than the general population. September data shows that 49.9% of Colorado Access members in Denver county are fully vaccinated, compared with 68.2% of all Denver county residents. When vaccination rates began to stall, the organization analyzed available data to determine the best approach to reach those who remained unvaccinated. During this process, it also saw an opportunity to make vaccine distribution more equitable.

Colorado Access analyzed vaccination rates by zip code and county to focus on high-need neighborhoods and targeted outreach efforts. Partnerships between clinical and community organizations were cultivated, including one between STRIDE Community Health Center and Aurora Public Schools (APS) to operate weekly vaccine clinics for community members. Colorado Access provided financial resources and data to ensure these efforts were both strategic and effective.

As a trusted community entity, APS leads outreach and planning efforts, while STRIDE is responsible for vaccine administration. From May 28 to August 20, 2021, STRIDE and APS held 19 school-based vaccination clinics, resulting in 1,195 first doses administered, 1,102 second doses administered and 1,205 unique patients including 886 patients aged 12-18. An additional 20 school-based vaccination events are scheduled to occur through November.

Another example of community integration includes partnering with the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), Denver Health and others to implement vaccine sites with the assistance of Denver Health’s mobile vaccine clinic in an effort to increase vaccination rates of DHA residents, the majority of which are Medicaid members. Colorado Access also focused on partnering with trusted community champions to plan a series of events at local restaurants, parishes and businesses, offering evening and weekend hours to eliminate the need to take off work. Nearly 700 shots were administered at these events in September.

“The data show us the need to meet members where they are,” said Ana Brown-Cohen, director of health programs at Colorado Access. “Many of our members lack transportation, child care and flexible work schedules. We began looking for ways to bend and integrate into the community, making the vaccine available where they visit, play, work and live.”

Data analysis also led Colorado Access to focus on the vaccine disparities that exist between members of color and white members. After instituting a combined method of direct calling and mailers to unvaccinated members of color, it saw the disparity dip from 0.33% in Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Elbert counties combined and 6.13% in Denver county to -3.77% and 1.54%, respectively, between June and September, 2021 (for members age 18 and over). This exceeds the state’s goal of a three percent maximum disparity rate in vaccinations between these populations.

Another approach that Colorado Access supports is integrating the topic into routine appointments and conversations, which also addresses provider burnout that can result from cold calling. The organization saw a correlation between vaccine rates and member engagement, where members who have engaged with their primary care provider in the last 12 months were more likely to be vaccinated than those who had not. This suggests that reaching out to engaged members who have not yet received their vaccine could prove effective.

About Colorado Access
As the largest and most experienced public sector health plan in the state, Colorado Access is a nonprofit organization that works beyond just navigating health services. The company focuses on meeting members’ unique needs by partnering with providers and community organizations to provide better personalized care through measurable results. Their broad and deep view of regional and local systems allows them to stay focused on our members’ care while collaborating on measurable and economically sustainable systems that serve them better. Learn more at