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Colorado orders first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses

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Robert Davis

(The Center Square) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) ordered its first round of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The order for 46,800 doses was put in last week in anticipation of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approving Pfizer’s vaccine. The company has said it intends to ship the vaccines to states within 24 hours of approval.

Allocations of Pfizer’s vaccine are determined by state population size and available stock. Since Colorado makes up 1.69% of the national population, CDPHE said Friday it anticipates the state will have access to 1.69% of the available vaccine doses.

Health care workers, first responders, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes are first in line to receive the vaccine under Colorado’s immunization plan. Afterward, vulnerable residents ages 65 and older and essential workers will be vaccinated.

“The availability of a COVID-19 vaccine is a major turning point in this pandemic, and we will act as swiftly as possible to get it distributed once it is approved,” Jill Hunsaker Ryan, CDPHE’s executive director, said in a statement. “We are working closely with local public health agencies, hospitals and other health care providers, pharmacies, and diverse community partners to distribute and administer the vaccine as equitably and efficiently as possible.”

Because of limited supply, CDPHE anticipates the first phase of the immunization process to take months, if not longer. Until a more is available, the agency recommends Coloradans “continue to take all possible measures to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Several counties qualify for red level status under the state's COVID-19 metrics. This designation requires businesses like restaurants and bars to forego dine-in services and rely on takeout and delivery income during the winter.

Lawmakers passed 10 relief bills approving over $300 million in unemployment and business support grant funding last week. While Gov. Jared Polis applauded the Legislature's actions, he acknowledged that the relief won't be enough to carry Coloradans through the winter.

CDPHE estimates one in 41 Coloradans is infected with COVID-19, the highest prevalence to date. Colorado added 4,181 cases on Friday alone. Public health officials expect Colorado’s hospitals to exceed capacity in their Intensive Care Units (ICU) within two weeks.