COLORADO SPRINGS — Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday afternoon the expansion of vaccine distribution in Colorado to include educators and people 65 and older.
Polis anticipates it will take two to three weeks to vaccinate educators or anyone in the classroom with children. He said the instructions for teachers to obtain vaccinations will come from their school district or campus. This phase of distribution will begin as early as February 8.
"Protocol(s) that are designed and are very effective, mainly quarantines, also get in the way of schools operating... Schools go back, but when there's a class out or two classes out or a school has to go online for two weeks, that can also be disruptive."
District 60 in Pueblo's Executive Director of Human Resources Eric Decesaro says teachers have been anticipating this day ever since the vaccine was first approved.
"Teachers since the beginning of the vaccine roll-out have been, 'When are we gunna get it? When's it gunna come out?', so this is just exciting news that we're now going to be able to make it available."
District 60 says they expect to have more information about vaccinating their workers after meeting with the Pueblo Health Department early next week.
For now, people ages 65-69 are asked to wait until more information becomes available before contacting providers to get into the system. The process of vaccinating 70+ is still very much in action.
"It won't start until February 8th and it will be randomized so, try to keep those phone lines open for those 70 and up," said the Governor.
So far, 40% of Colorado's 70 and older population has been vaccinated, according to the Governor. He states the opinion that once we have our older populations vaccinated it will end the crisis phase of the pandemic in the state.
Vaccinations are completed at 90 percent for high-risk healthcare workers in Phase 1A. Phase 1B now being split up into other phases of Phase 1B.1, 1B.2, 1B.3. Faith leaders will be included in Phase 1B.3.
This week, Congressman Doug Lamborn sent a request for those leaders to be included due to the services they provide to our communities. A statement from Lamborn's office regarding the letter cites "places of worship have worked tirelessly to provide comfort and spiritual care to individuals and communities." Phase 1B.3 could start as early as March.
Phase 2 distribution is expected to start in the spring, followed by Phase 3 in the summer with vaccine distribution to the general public.
The governor was joined by Brigadier General Scott Sherman, Dir. of Joint Staff of the Colorado National Guard, and Scott Bookman, Incident Commander with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
According to General Sherman, his teams anticipate having 452,000 vaccine doses on hand for distribution.
This follows his press conference Tuesday where he said the state is still waiting on vaccine supplies and referenced President Joe Biden's goal of administering 100 million shots by the end of his first 100 days in office.
The governor said he is confident the current levels of supplies will be maintained and the state is practicing "real-time management" with vaccines to ensure people receive the second dose as recommended.
Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, also broke down how the state's COVID-19 data is impacted by vaccine rollouts. The state is currently seeing a steady downward trajectory over the last two weeks and a similar trajectory is being seen across the country. In comparison, Colorado currently has fewer COVID-19 cases than most other states.
Details on the updated distribution plan.
Phase 1A - Winter
The very first phase of vaccine distribution includes healthcare workers interacting directly with COVID-19 patients and those living or working in assisted living/long term care facilities.
- 1A - Highest risk health care workers and individuals.
- People who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
- Long Term care facility staff and residents.
Phase 1B - Winter
The remaining doses in the first phase include moderate risk healthcare workers, first responders, and Coloradans over the age of 65. Each county varies in the timeline when it comes to administering vaccines to elderly Coloradans. In a press conference Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis announced Coloradans in this age group account for 70 percent of all deaths and more than a third of hospitalizations.
- 1B.1 - Coloradans 70+, moderate risk health care workers, and first responders
- Health care workers with less direct contact with COVID-19 patients (e.g. home health, hospice, pharmacy, dental, etc) and EMS.
- Firefighters, police, COVID-19 response personnel, correctional workers, and funeral services
- People age 70 and older
- 1B.2 - Coloradans ages 65-69, pre-K-12 educators and child care workers in licensed child care programs, and continuity of state government
- Child care workers in licensed child care programs, teachers (full-time and susbtitutes), bus, food, counselors, administrative, safety and other support services offered inside the school
- Member of the Executive and Judicial branches of state government
- People ages 65-69.
- 1B.3 - Frontline essential workers and people age 16-64 with two or more high-risk conditions
- Frontline essential workers in food and agriculture, manufacturing, U.S. postal service, public transit and specialized transportation staff, grocery, public health, frontline essential human service workers, faith leaders, and direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness and essential frontline journalists.
- People 16-64 with 2 or more high-risk conditions as listed: Coloradans with cancer (defined as patients who are currently receiving treatment or have received treatment within the last month for cancer), chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome, specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease), obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.
Phase 2 - Spring
As more doses become available, Coloradans aged 60-69 will be able to receive the vaccine, along with other essential workers and those that received a placebo vaccine during the trials. Coloradans aged 16-59 who are immunocompromised or have other underlying health conditions will also be included in this phase.
- People age 60-64, people with high-risk conditions, and the continuation of operations for state government and continuity of local government
- People age 60-64
- People 16-59 with 1 high-risk condition as listed: Coloradans with cancer (defined as patients who are currently receiving treatment or have received treatment within the last month for cancer), chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes mellitus, Down syndrome, specific heart conditions (heart failure, cardiomyopathies or coronary heart disease, and severe valvular/congenital heart disease), obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, solid organ transplant and people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing masks.
- Local continuity of local government defined as executives of those branches of government and a limited amount of essential support staff needed to provide for continuity of government.
- Continuation of operations for state government is defined as those individuals defined by continuity of operations plans that each agency holds to continue to provide services.
- Adults who received a placebo during a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial
Phase 3 - Summer
The general public will be the final part of the distribution process which means anyone else who is 16-59. This is expected to happen this summer.