‘An enormous undertaking’: Colorado hopes to wrap up first phase of vaccinations by Jan. 15

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If all goes according to plan, a majority of Colorado’s frontline health care workers, nursing home residents and staff will receive their first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 15, paving the way for the next waves of vaccine recipients, like older Coloradans and other essential workers.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis outlined the progress of the state’s vaccine distribution plan Wednesday, noting during a morning news conference that “we need to do better here in Colorado.”

The state, which has administered 129,552 vaccine doses of the 234,000 it has received, is on the precipice of starting Phase 1B of its vaccination plan, which encompasses an estimated 1.3 million people, including more health care workers, teachers, first responders, certain essential workers and Coloradans 70 years old and older. 

“That’s a significant group of people we’ll be focused on for the next couple of months,” Polis said Wednesday. 

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Once Phase 1A is complete, Coloradans 70 years old and older will be the first prioritized group in Phase 1B to get vaccinated. The state hopes to give the majority of this group their first vaccine dose by Feb. 28, Polis said.

Teachers will be next, with vaccine doses given out to them likely in early March in both the state and Larimer County. 

UCHealth, which has vaccinated more than 30,000 people across Colorado so far, will launch a registry system on its website as the state enters Phase 1B. The system will allow people to get on a list and receive a vaccine once it becomes available to them per the state’s phased plan, according to UCHealth Spokesperson Kelly Tracer. 

While Polis estimated this system will be launched by the weekend, UCHealth did not confirm that timeline by publication of this article.

In the meantime, Polis encouraged people who have UCHealth as a health care provider to create an account for UCHealth’s online patient portal, My Health Connection. 

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UCHealth patients who are eligible for the vaccine will receive an update from the health care system through that portal, Tracer said.

Colorado is currently seeing shipments of roughly 70,000 vaccine doses per week, with larger shipments expected in the future, state health Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said. 

“We do ask for people to be patient. Not everyone who is eligible will receive a vaccine right away,” she said Wednesday. “This is an enormous undertaking.”

Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you. If not, sign up for a digital subscription to the Coloradoan today.