What you need to know about Colorado's COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Posted at 10:31 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 01:25:43-05

DENVER — The first COVID-19 shot was given to a Coloradan on Dec. 14. Since then, more than 138,000 people in the first phase have received their shot.

Vaccines going in people’s arms increased from 2% last week to 2.3% this week according to the New York Times and Governor Jared Polis admits we can do better.

On average, Colorado receives roughly 70,000 vaccines weekly, according to Brigadier General Scott Sherman. He says a portion of those shots go to Walgreens and CVS, which partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make sure long-term care facility residents and staff are vaccinated.

“They’ve received over 80,000 of the 121,000 doses,” Sherman said.

Vaccines at long-term care facilities should be completed by mid-January and no later than Jan. 28 at assisted living facilities.

“Once we get out of the long-term care facility, we are also getting vaccine into the retail pharmacies," Sherman said."That will help increase the vaccine available or the appointments available for the over 70 population.”

More than 562,000 people in Colorado are 70 and older in our state and they represent 78% of COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) website. The goal is to get the demographic immune as quickly as possible, but the state is working with a very limited supply of vaccines.

“With only 70,000 doses a week it will be the end of February before we can get the first dose done,” Sherman said.

The state health department hopes to get everyone that is 70 and older vaccinated by Feb. 28.

The state is working with local and public health agencies, health care providers, and pharmacies to roll out the vaccine to people in the first phase. Some may also get the shot through their employer.

“The federally qualified health clinics are starting vaccination, so we make sure we are serving underserved communities,” Sherman said.

There are currently 296 vaccine providers across Colorado registered with the CDC to administer the vaccine. Each provider submits a vaccine request and receives doses based on availability and the local population.

“It is all about inventory control and getting shots in arms,” Sherman said.

He adds that it’s a complicated system, but they are working to make sure the distribution is as fair as possible.

Several counties have created websites where people can enroll and receive an alert when they’re eligible for the vaccine. Major hospitals are also reaching out to those who currently qualify for the shot based on electronic medical records. For more information, click here.