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Gov. Polis: "We need to do better with vaccine distribution"

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Posted at 8:34 AM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 08:07:10-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Wednesday morning Gov. Jared Polis gave an update on Colorado's vaccine distribution, saying we need to do a better job with our state's vaccine distribution. The governor also asked for patience as confusion remains for 70-and-older residents wanting to receive a dose. The governor was joined by Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Last week the governor announced that Colorado's 70-year-old and older population would have access to the vaccine, though it remained unclear over the last week how those residents could receive a dose.

During the press conference, the governor said as we finish vaccinating people in Phase 1A, many places in the state have already started vaccinating those in Phase 1B. "We're ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the country, but we need to do better," Gov. Polis said. The state expects to be done with the state's portion of Phase 1A by the end of the week.

Gov. Polis and health authorities said they remain hopeful as we get through Phase 1 that we can move into Phase 2 in the spring. The general population will hopefully have access to it by the summer.

By Jan. 15, the majority of the highest risk healthcare workers and long-term care/skilled nursing facilities will have received the vaccination. Then, the focus will move to vaccinate people who are 70-year-old and older.

Phase 1B is the one that includes teachers and all Coloradans who are 70-years-old and older. The changes made last week better align with CDC guidance. Phase 1B includes about 1,315,000 people.

The state expects to have vaccinated 70% of Coloradans who are 70 years old and older by Feb. 28.

Colorado expects to have vaccinated 70% of Coloradans who are 70-years-old and older by Feb. 28
Colorado expects to have vaccinated 70% of Coloradans who are 70-years-old and older by Feb. 28

Anyone who qualifies for Phase 1B can visit their local hospitals or drive-through clinics to get the vaccine once it is available at those locations. Coloradans should check with their healthcare provider or local health agency about the availability of the vaccine.

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of CDPHE, said the state's mission is to distribute vaccines as quickly as the federal supply chain allows. Ryan added that our state is getting about 70K vaccines per week and that will increase in February and March.

Hospitals have online portals where you can sign up to get contacted when it's your time to get vaccinated. By this weekend, Denver Health, UCHealth and Centura will have portals open for this.

Base on recommendations from the Roadmap to In-Person Learning, the state will continue to provide Colorado educators and school staff with masks. To date, the state has provided 2,440,750 KN95 masks to schools around the state.

During the press conference, the governor announced a new home-use Binax testing partnership. Our state is going to be one of only three in the country that will participate in this program. These home tests are available to all school districts that opt-in thru June 2021.

Public and private school districts can order these tests, which will be shipped to homes of students and staff who have access to telehealth assistance during the testing process. They can be used for people who are symptomatic, those who have been exposed, and regular surveillance testing.

Gov. Polis said school nurses are eligible as front-line healthcare workers under Phase 1A. Phase 1A is ending soon, but is not over, he clarified. It means there will be a trickle of Phase 1A people who will be vaccinated in the coming weeks along with Phase 1B.

In Pueblo, News5 spoke with Pueblo Public Health Director Randy Evetts who said the county is still working to vaccinate first-priority frontline medical workers. He was unable to give a timeline for when senior vaccinations will start because the size of vaccine shipments are typically not the same though he is estimating a week of two before they can begin.

As the transition from Level Red counties to Level Orange took place earlier this week, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Robin Johnson cautions everyone to not lose sight of the metric showing trends for COVID-19 incidents.

There are many senior citizens in Colorado who heard Gov. Jared Polis say they are now eligible for the vaccine. Because of the current limited doses in most counties, it will likely be another week or two before there is enough supply to start vaccinating the age 70 and above group.
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