Colorado is on track to vaccinate 70% of residents age 70 and older by the end of February, despite being “lied to” by federal government officials who had pledged to soon release a stockpile of second doses, Gov. Jared Polis said Friday.
“Today I come before you extremely disappointed that we were lied to with plans of the administration to release reserve doses that were to be the second doses of the vaccine,” Polis said at a Friday news conference.
The promised federal stockpile would’ve amounted to about three weeks of coronavirus vaccine supply for Colorado, or 210,000 doses, Polis said. He said he learned Friday that the additional doses aren’t coming.
“We were ready to deploy it right away, and now we know that it simply doesn’t exist,” he said, later attributing the matter to “gross incompetence” on the part of the Trump administration. “Regardless of who’s president, I just want to make sure the federal government is upfront and honest with all of us at the state level. It’s very frustrating and creates a great inability to plan when these numbers are changed around by large amounts.”
Nevertheless, Polis expects Colorado to receive about 78,000 doses of vaccine next week and another 78,000 the following week from the federal government. He expects to receive 90,000 to 100,000 doses a week during the first three weeks of February, although he cautioned that Colorado has “been misled before” about supplies. There are about 530,000 people in Colorado age 70 or older, so those numbers would put the state on track to achieve its goal.
Those supplies will be reserved for people 70 and older and any front-line health care and skilled nursing workers who haven’t yet been vaccinated. About 85% of front-line health care workers have already received their first dose of vaccine, and 73% have received their second dose. Vaccines have been administered at about 97% of skilled nursing facilities.
Colorado is likely to move to the next phase of vaccine distribution, including people 65 and older and front-line workers such as teachers and bus drivers, once about half of people older than 70 have been vaccinated, Polis said.
A new, one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson could secure approval from the Food and Drug Administration sometime in February, Polis said, which would bolster the state’s supply.
If the Biden administration follows through on its pledge to distribute 100 million vaccines in 100 days, that would equate to about one-third of all Coloradans getting a vaccine by the end of April, Polis said.
People age 70 and older can sign up online with a health care provider to receive a call when the vaccine is available, Polis said. The vaccines will be free for all with no co-pay, he said.
“Vaccines are our path back to the Colorado that we know and love,” he said.
70 or older in Northern Colorado? Here’s information about COVID-19 vaccines
Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.