DENVER (KDVR) — Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are rising in Colorado. The new vaccine formulations released by Pfizer and Moderna are designed to fight the newest strain of the virus.

“It is recommended for everyone 6 months and older,” said Dr. Bob Belknap, executive director of the Public Health Institute of Denver Health.

The new COVID vaccines entered the market in mid-September, and now the rush to book appointments is causing health care websites to get busier.

Katrina Bellis, who started a chapter of Colorado Vaccine Hunters, said she can find them around 7-8 a.m.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers didn’t find any available appointments this month in some areas of cities like Chicago and San Francisco, where some pharmacy customers have reported charges as high as $200 for a vaccine. Colorado is not seeing the same problems at this point.

“Access and availability for that vaccine is pretty good right now,” Belknap said.

Belknap told FOX31 that safeguards are in place to keep vaccines available and affordable through public health clinics.

“We will have enough vaccines and most people should be able to be vaccinated for free,” Belknap said.

Getting vaccines at Walgreens, Safeway

Walgreens issued a statement to FOX31: “We are committed to ensuring no patient pays and everyone who is eligible and wants a vaccine receives one. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be available at no cost to the public. The cost will either be covered by insurance or government assistance programs, such as the CDC’s Bridge Access Program. We remain focused on driving equitable and convenient access to life-saving vaccines.”

Many people who have health insurance may pay more than others. Safeway told FOX31 that the “cost of vaccine varies by insurance.”

Bellis, of the vaccine hunter group, started assisting neighbors to find vaccine appointments during the pandemic.

“I helped random people, strangers, whoever needed one,” Bellis said.

She said checking every day for an appointment online and booking early is the key to finding a vaccine.

“A lot of times, (they) will say we don’t have any, but you refresh it and a whole bunch just pop up. It’s crazy,” Bellis said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the state has a limited vaccine supply given to those who are uninsured or underinsured and have less access to medical care. CDPHE provided the following resource information.

Coloradans should ask their local pharmacy, regular health care provider, or local public health agency if they have updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines. They can also visit the federal government website to find vaccine providers.

Additionally, a Colorado law called Individual Access to Publicly Funded Vaccines helps ensure people can get the COVID-19 vaccine even if they don’t have health insurance or are underinsured.

Vaccines for Children providers have low- and no-cost vaccines for uninsured, underinsured, Medicaid-eligible, or Alaskan Native/American Indian children aged 18 years and younger. Children who are underinsured can get low- and no-cost vaccines at their local public health agency, federally qualified health center, rural health center, or Indian Health Services clinic.

Bridge Access Program providers have low- and no-cost updated COVID-19 vaccines for uninsured and underinsured adults aged 18 years and older. This includes most local public health agencies, federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, and safety net clinics, as well as Walgreens and CVS pharmacy locations across the state.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment