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In a press conference on Friday Feb. 26, Colorado Governor Jared Polis again made changes to the COVID-19 vaccination schedule, announcing that beginning March 5, Phase 1B3 will include Coloradans age 60 and older, and 16-59 with 2 or more comorbidities, and agriculture and grocery workers.

While Polis said his focus for the announcement was vaccines, he began by honoring the 5,874 Coloradans now dead of COVID-19.

“We’re announcing today that members of the general public age 60 and up are on the vaccination schedule starting March 5. You can schedule an appointment with your local public health department, pharmacy, or health clinic. We’re further announcing that in late March  — around March 21 we think — anybody age 50 and up will be able to get the vaccine. Everybody age 65 and up is already NOW eligible to get the vaccine.”

While that is good news, he made the announcement with a cautionary note.

File photo: Governor Jared Polis asks Coloradans to Stay at Home with Executive Order, in March, 2020. Screenshot taken of the press conference held by Polis announcing the Executive Order.

“We’ve now had 1,521 new cases of the virus; this is a significant increase,” said Polis, who added that while the trend of cases has been downward, and state hospitalizations stand at 358, that this figure for new cases is higher than last week. “Get tested when you are ill. We did 39,000 tests yesterday. The state can do up to 100,000 tests a day. We are in a stable trend – we hope this [rise in cases] is not a harbinger of an increase…we know how to lick this thing.”

He went on to explain how Colorado could even be at the stage of predicting vaccination dates after the early vaccination start when the dosages promised to the state often didn’t live up to those numbers.

“Vaccine prioritization is based on how many vaccine doses we are getting – we now have General Scott Sherman in charge of supply, and we now have a 3-week horizon from the federal government so we can predict and plan,” said Polis.

“When we say there are vaccines and you are eligible, you should be able to get your shot in a reasonable amount of time, within three to four weeks at most. So it’s maybe not today, but in a few weeks,” he added.

As of Friday, the state has administered more than 882,000 doses of the vaccines. Some 90 percent of front-line healthcare workers have received both doses of the vaccine.

“They know something about [this disease] and they are getting vaccinated at 90 percent, so you should too! Follow that lead,” said the governor.

Dr. Lisa Zwerdlinger, Lake County Public Health Agency’s Medical Advisor and Chief Medical Officer of St. Vincent Health, receives the first COVID-19 vaccine given in Lake County on Dec, 22. Colleen Nielsen, RN, BSN, Director of Lake County Public Health Agency, administered the shot. Photo courtesy Lake County

The governor added that as of Feb. 26, 67 percent of Coloradans ages 70+ have been vaccinated, and 30 percent of those age 65+ are now vaccinated. He added that it is his goal to get to 70 percent of age 65+ within the next week. The state will know by next Tuesday if it can make that goal.

“We are also working on educators. Our goal is 75 percent and we are at 64 percent of educators [vaccinated] now!!!

The governor stressed the state’s focus. “Our key point is equitable distribution. We’re able to provide an update to our vaccine distribution plan because we now have a three-week window of our vaccine supply, so we can plan. so stages 1B3 — and a new 1B4 – are next. On March 5 distributing to age 60, along with agricultural workers and grocery store workers, and 16-59 with 2 or more comorbidities, and in the period around March 21, we hope to be able to begin on age 50 and up, higher education, bus drivers, essential workers; regardless of age.

‘We now know our supply through the third week of March, including the state allocation and the federal pharmacy program and the federally-supplied health programs,” said General Sherman. “We are adding CVS and Walgreens, also in here is the 45,5000 Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses we’ll get allocated next week. We think we’ll get 400,000 doses of the J&J here by the end of March.”

The governor complimented “the great job that our local public health agencies and pharmacies have been doing.” He added that the state’s Director of the Unified task force and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Scott Bookman leads a public health response that has had multiple twists and turns and is finally reaching a point where reliable vaccination planning can be done because the state can count on the dose numbers it will receive.


His full press conference is available here