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Coronavirus

Colorado isn’t changing its vaccine priority plan for now, despite new federal recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issued the new guidelines over the weekend

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Colorado health officials are not currently planning to change the state’s priority list for coronavirus vaccination, despite new recommendations from a federal committee.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — known more commonly as ACIP — over the weekend released new guidance on who it believes should be next in line for vaccination. Colorado is currently in Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, when frontline health care workers who treat COVID-19 patients and residents of nursing homes and other senior-living facilities are eligible for vaccination. Colorado’s plan for Phase 1a squares with ACIP’s earlier recommendations.

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But the new recommendations from ACIP lay out a priority list for who comes next that differs in significant ways from Colorado’s plan.

Most notably, ACIP’s recommendations create a new prioritization group for people age 75 and older. That group is included with first responders in ACIP’s recommended Phase 1b. Also included in ACIP’s Phase 1b are other frontline essential workers like grocery store and transit system workers and teachers.

ACIP also created a Phase 1c, which includes all people age 65 to 74, adults with high-risk medical conditions and non-frontline essential workers — including people like bank tellers and members of the media.

ACIP’s proposed Phase 2 would then open up vaccination to everyone else in the general public.

ACIP’s recommendations are just that — states don’t have to follow them. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicated the state’s vaccination plan won’t change — at least not now.

“Essential workers and those 65 and older are Phase 2,” the statement read. “Prioritization is subject to change based on data, science, availability.”

Phase 1b of Colorado’s plan includes first responders and non-frontline health care workers. Colorado has no Phase 1c in its current plan.

Phase 2 in Colorado includes people age 65 and older, adults with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers whose jobs put them in regular contact with the public — including teachers, transit workers and grocery workers. Colorado’s plan also has a Phase 3, when members of the general public become eligible.

The state’s plan could still change, based on emerging research. The state could also create subphases within Phase 2. That phase, the largest, likely contains more than 2 million people, officials have said.

“I think the group is set,” CDPHE executive director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said last week in an interview with The Colorado Sun. “It’s a large group, and you can tell we put them into one bucket at this point. But we’ll have to see. We may need some subgroups.”

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