Gov. Jared Polis said Friday that Coloradans 65 and older, as well as teachers and child care workers, will have access to the coronavirus vaccine starting on Feb. 8.
Polis, speaking at a news conference at the governor’s mansion in downtown Denver, said it was an “easy call” to move the age group up in line to receive the inoculation.
People ages 65 to 69 were initially in Phase 2 of Colorado’s vaccine distribution plan, set to begin in the spring. They are now in a newly formed Phase 1B.2.
The governor estimated it will take about two or three weeks to administer first doses to all K-12 educators who want to be vaccinated. School support staff, like bus drivers, will also have access to the vaccine starting Feb. 8.
Scott Bookman, Colorado’s coronavirus incident commander, said educators and child care workers will sign up to receive the vaccine through their employers.
Colorado has already been vaccinating Coloradans 70 and older, and so far has administered 190,000 first doses to people in that age group. A vast majority of people in that age range are expected to be vaccinated by the end of February.
Health care workers and first responders have also been receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Polis said 90% of people in that group, or about 68,000 people, have been vaccinated.
The governor also said all residents at skilled nursing facilities who want to be vaccinated have received at least a first dose.
Brig. Gen. Scott Sherman, the Colorado National Guard member who is managing the state’s vaccine distribution, said vaccine supply is expected to remain steady in the next few weeks.
Bookman said he expects to begin vaccinating people in Colorado’s phase 1B.3 in early March. People in that phase include frontline, essential workers — like grocery store employees and some journalists — and people ages 16 to 64 who have two or more comorbidities.
It’s possible Colorado’s vaccine phases will change again in March, Polis said, if vaccine distribution doesn’t ramp. Phase 1B.3 is so large — more than 1 million people — that it may have to be parsed out and prioritized if there’s still a limited supply of vaccine, according to the governor.
Polis urged people to show up for their vaccine appointments as scheduled. He also asked that those who are not scheduled to receive a vaccine avoid vaccination sites until it is their turn to be innoculated.