VERIFY: Travel nurses have not been left out of the vaccine distribution plan

A viewer wanted to know where travel nurses fall when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Here’s the answer.

DENVER — COVID-19 vaccine distribution was off to a rocky start across the U.S. 

Here in Colorado, some people have faced many different challenges while trying to get the shot, like trying to make an appointment, finding a place to get the vaccine and technological difficulties with communication. 

Some people feel they have been unreasonably left out of the early distribution plans.

Most healthcare workers in Colorado have already gotten the vaccine, but one viewer thinks a group of healthcare workers has been overlooked.

Viewer James emailed the 9NEWS VERIFY team saying that travel nurses have been completely overlooked in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Travel nurses work in short-term roles at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. They occupy these roles during nursing shortages.

And while many work in COVID-19 units in hospitals, James said they haven’t been able to get the shot. Is that the case? 

RELATED: ‘Getting vaccinated is going to help’: Denver-based traveling nurse battles COVID-19

The Question

Have travel nurses been overlooked in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout?

The Answer

No. After talking to several different major hospital systems in the state, and an organization for visiting nurses, there is no evidence that travel nurses have been left out of the distribution. Each hospital said that travel nurses are not seen any different rules than other healthcare workers and they were also included in phases 1A and 1B in the Colorado distribution phases.

What we found

We talked to UCHealth, Centura Health, Denver Health, the Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and the state to see if this is true.

According to the state, healthcare workers, including traveling nurses, are eligible for vaccination in Phase 1A and 1B in Colorado.

“We are grateful for all the nurses, traveling and otherwise, who serve Coloradans. They would be eligible for vaccines in phase 1A if they are helping Coloradans with COVID-19,” the state Joint Information Center said.

RELATED: VERIFY: Are people being tested for COVID-19 before they receive vaccines?

Phase 1B includes moderate-risk healthcare workers who do not work directly with COVID-19 patients.

Centura Health, UCHealth and Denver Health all echoed the state, saying that their traveling nurses are treated as frontline healthcare workers and have been offered the vaccine.

“Anyone who is employed by Centura Health, or is credentialed with us, has received an invitation to get the vaccine,” said Lindsay Radford with Centura Health. “That includes all traveling nurses. We also poll new hires on a weekly basis to ensure they are invited.”

UCHealth and Denver Health also said that the vaccine has been offered to everyone who works at their hospital, making sure that no workers are left out.

The VERIFY team also talked to the Colorado Visiting Nurse Association to see if they know of any travel nurses that haven’t been able to get the shot.

They said they are not aware of any travel nurses not having access to the vaccine.

So we can verify, no, travel nurses have not been left out in the vaccine distribution plan in Colorado.

And, there is no differentiation between travel nurses and other nurses when it comes to vaccine eligibility in Colorado.

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