(Though the federal government did not give Pfizer any money to help develop its vaccine, the purchase agreement is part of Operation Warp Speed. The other three leading vaccine candidates, from Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca did receive development funding from Operation Warp Speed.)
Colorado, with about 5.8 million people, currently represents around 1.7% of the U.S. population. That means Colorado will receive about 1.7% of the vaccine supplies available to the federal government.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have signed contracts with the federal government to deliver 100 million doses each of their vaccines over the next several months. If the government sticks to its plan to distribute only by population size, that means Colorado would receive 3.4 million of those doses. Because both vaccines require two doses to be effective, that would be enough to inoculate 1.7 million people.
That would still leave around 3 million adults in the state in need of vaccination.
The state has settled on a three-phased process for deciding who should be vaccinated first. The initial doses will likely go exclusively to health care workers, first responders and those most at risk from severe coronavirus infections, such as people living in nursing homes.
In the second phase, the largest, are essential workers and people who, because of age or medical conditions, are at higher risk of severe illness. This phase would also include college students living in dorms or other congregate housing. The third and final phase opens vaccination up to anyone in the general public.
Dr. Eric France, CDPHE’s chief medical officer, said Thursday that he’s hopeful that there could be doses available to begin the third phase by March or April. But he said it may also be summer before there’s enough to begin vaccinating the general public, and it could take months after that to make sure everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.
He also said additional research will reveal whether some companies’ vaccines work better for certain population groups than others, further complicating the allocation picture.
“So there’s a whole lot that we don’t know about these vaccines,” France said. “We know very little. We know a little bit from a couple of press releases. But we haven’t seen any data that has been reviewed publicly. So a lot more to come.”
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