Colorado surpasses goal for vaccinating 70-plus, will double weekly doses by late April

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Colorado vaccinated 70.7% of people age 70 and older by Feb. 28, officially surpassing the state’s goal. 

Gov. Jared Polis announced the milestone Tuesday, thanking his COVID-19 team, providers and local public health agencies for their efforts in achieving what he called a “stretch goal.” 

Polis acknowledged the goal was ambitious and required many to “burn the candle at both ends” but said meeting it will drastically reduce deaths from COVID-19.

“People over 70 and up have represented 78% of the deaths in Colorado from COVID, just over 40% of the hospitalizations, so we’ve made tremendous progress towards protecting folks,” said Polis, adding that he hopes this number grows and that those 70-plus will continue to be a priority.

Tracking COVID:Larimer County and Colorado case, vaccine and hospital data for March 2021

Polis also provided an update on the state’s vaccine forecast, which is set to steadily increase over the next few months. He said that by late April he expects Colorado to be administering about 450,000 doses weekly, almost double what the state administers now. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will contribute to the increase, though the single-dose shot will not be consistently delivered to Colorado until the end of March. However, Polis said Colorado will receive 45,500 doses of it this week and he plans for all of those to be used by Sunday. 

With a third vaccine added to the mix, Polis clarified that people will not be able to select which they receive, but they can select which provider they go to based on what the provider has. He said it will be clear which vaccine a person will receive when they make their appointment, and if it’s not their preferred shot, they can make an appointment with a different provider. 

Next phase:Coloradans age 60 and up, some essential workers to get vaccine starting March 5

Polis also gave an update on the phases of vaccination. 

Those who are eligible beginning Friday will be able to sign up for an appointment through all providers by Friday, and some are already taking appointments. He said the soonest possible date the state will move to the next vaccine phase — including restaurant workers and people 50 and older — is March 21. 

Based on the current rate of vaccination the state is seeing now, Polis said he expects 70% of Coloradans will be vaccinated at some point in May and herd immunity will follow shortly after.

“I’m confident that summer will be very close to normal based on the vaccine predictions we have today,” Polis said.

Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at mbohannon@coloradoan.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.