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Vaccine eligibility expanding in Colorado despite thousands over 70 still waiting: There is a reason

COVID vaccine
Posted at 9:26 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 00:24:04-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Close to 227,000 Coloradans over the age of 70 have gotten at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. "That brings us halfway towards our goal of vaccinating at least 70% of those 70 and up, protecting our most vulnerable," said Colorado Governor, Jared Polis. The goal is reaching 70% by the end of February.

It also means there are tens of thousands more Coloradans over the age of 70 still waiting to get their vaccine. Some are asking why state leaders are expanding eligibility on February 8th to include the more than 280,000 Colorado residents in the 65 to 70 age group.

Governor Polis say the goal of 70% of over 70 vaccinated by the end of February will not be hindered by the eligibility expansion. "You will get it; you'll get it in February."

The February 8th expansion date is not exact, but rather an approximation when planners see the need to have more people ready to get vaccinated. “Around that date, if we don't expand the pool there will be a slowdown in administering the vaccine because there simply won't be enough people 70 and up to use every vaccine in real time," said Polis

There is an unavoidable variable that overrides age group eligibility. The vaccine has no shelf-life. As the lists for 70 and over patients get smaller, the potential for gaps in scheduling increase. "We'll be going as fast as we can,” said Polis, “There simply won't be enough people 70 and up for us to fully deploy all the vaccine, Feb 9th and beyond.” To avoid wasted time and doses of vaccine, the next group needs to be in place to fill any open slots on schedules.

The governor says anyone in the 70 plus group still waiting, will not lose their priority status. While the goal is 70% vaccinated by the end of February, he thinks it could be 80% even 90% by the end of February if enough doses are available.

Bigger picture, immunizations in Colorado have a long way to go. Just 8% of Colorado’s overall population has gotten a first dose of vaccine.