Colorado COVID-19 vaccine plan will prioritize health care workers, nursing home residents
People working or living in nursing homes, hospital staff and first responders likely will be the first to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado, but even they may have to wait if supplies are short.
State officials announced Friday they’d completed a plan to guide distribution of a vaccine for the new coronavirus, whenever one is proven safe and effective. The plan could still be modified after the state submits it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those groups will be offered the vaccine first, because they are at a high risk of getting the virus, said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
As more doses become available, they’ll offer them to people in other congregate facilities, such as prisons, and essential workers who have contact with the public, she said. Eventually, anyone will be able to get the shot, though it’s not clear how long it might take to reach that point.
If there aren’t enough shots to vaccinate everyone in the highest-risk group first, the plan lays out other criteria, like whether a health care worker has a health condition that increases the odds of becoming seriously ill.
It’s not yet clear how many people will have to get the shot before reaching “herd immunity,” where enough people are immune that new outbreaks quickly fizzle out, said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer at the state health department.
Four vaccines have gone through the first two stages of development, where relatively small groups of volunteers are monitored to see if they develop an immune response or any serious side effects, France said. The earliest a vaccine could be approved is late November, if the version that is farthest into phase three trials shows good results this month, he said. Phase three trials involve tens of thousands of people, and try to prove that people who got the vaccine are less likely to become infected with the coronavirus than those who got a placebo.
Even if a vaccine gets approval in November, it could be months before states have significant numbers of doses to distribute. People need to continue taking precautions like wearing masks and avoiding crowds until much of the population has been vaccinated, Gov. Jared Polis said.
“If we get 1,000 (doses of) vaccines in December, that doesn’t make much of a difference at all,” he said.
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