All Coloradans 16-plus up for vaccine starting April 2

General public reaches eligibility; state emphasizes caution amid virus variants

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/30/21

The wait for eligibility will soon be over for all adults and older teenagers in Colorado, with coronavirus vaccine eligibility set to hit the general population starting April 2, the governor's …

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All Coloradans 16-plus up for vaccine starting April 2

General public reaches eligibility; state emphasizes caution amid virus variants

Posted

The wait for eligibility will soon be over for all adults and older teenagers in Colorado, with coronavirus vaccine eligibility set to hit the general population starting April 2, the governor's office announced on March 29.

All Coloradans over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and all Coloradans over the age of 18 will be eligible to receive the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, according to a news release.

As the state moves through phases of vaccine scheduling, people in previous phases remain eligible, according to the state COVID-19 website.

State officials anticipate that everyone who wants vaccine shots will have access before the end of May, according to the news release.

Polis emphasized it will take time for Coloradans to secure appointments.

“It could be next week; it could be in five weeks,” Polis said in the release. “So while availability opens to everyone this Friday, April 2, be patient and know that your time will come.”

Technically, eligibility for the general population is known as phase 2 in Colorado. The state may continue to prioritize by age in phase 2 if it remains constrained by supply, according to the state's website.

Gov. Jared Polis called the effort to administer COVID-19 vaccines “one of the greatest feats in human history” in the news release.

“Each vaccine is a step towards getting back to normal,” Polis said in the release. “Today is a monumental step forward in Colorado's efforts to get vaccines to every person who wants one, and I want to thank our frontline heroes — both professional and volunteer — who have stepped up, racing to get shots into arms.”

As of March 29, about 70% of all Coloradans 60 and older have been vaccinated, including 79% of all Coloradans 70 and older, 71% of Coloradans 65 to 69, and 53% of Coloradans 60 to 64, according to the release. More than 1.5 million Coloradans have received their first dose of a vaccine, and almost 1 million have been fully immunized, the release said. 

Mass vaccination sites underway

Colorado recently launched five mass vaccination sites in locations around the state.

Depending on supply, a maximum of 6,000 doses per day will be administered at each site six days per week for a total of 36,000 doses each week through the program, according to the release. So far, 35,322 doses have been administered through those sites.

In the last two weeks, Polis joined the launch of mass vaccination sites at the following locations: Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City and The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, the release said.

Two other mass vaccination sites are open, in Pueblo County at the Colorado State Fairgrounds and in Mesa County at the Grand Junction Convention Center. Starting April 1, the state will partner with Denver to launch a site at Ball Arena, the release said.

The state's Equity Outreach Team is working with community-based organizations, providers, local public health agencies and tribes to set up vaccine clinics in “underserved” communities across the state, according to the release. As of today, 111 clinics have been completed, with 10 to 12 clinics completed per week on average. More than 75 clinics scheduled through April 6 are expected to administer 30,400-plus doses, the release said.

Polis also announced that Colorado will be launching mobile vaccine clinics to create more access in coming weeks. These buses will travel to “small communities,” the release said. More information was forthcoming as those clinics become operational. 

Not time to let guard down, data shows

Polis' office emphasized that it's still a time for caution. Colorado's coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue on a plateau that shows signs of rising again, according to state data. 

“Emerging COVID-19 variants are cause for concern,” the release said. “For Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, it typically takes two weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means you can be infected from exposure to COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination.”

How Colorado's vaccine schedule has evolved

After Colorado received its first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 14 and health-care centers began giving shots to health-care workers — part of the state's first phase of vaccinations — the governor announced that starting Dec. 30, people 70 and older were eligible for the vaccine.

By early January, some hospitals and other health-care providers in the Tri-County Health jurisdiction — which includes Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties — began “phase 1B,” a stage that included people 70 and older and some health-care workers and first responders.

On Jan. 29, Colorado had again updated its vaccine schedule, rebranding that stage as phase 1B.1 and laying out a 1B.2 and a 1B.3.

Phase 1B.2 kicked off on Feb. 8 and included Coloradans age 65 to 69 and school workers for grades pre-K through 12, among other groups. At the time, the next step, 1B.3, was expected to include “frontline essential” workers in general, along with people age 16 to 64 with two or more high-risk health conditions.

Polis had announced that close to March 5, those groups would likely be eligible.

It was “also projected that Coloradans ages 60 and up will also be able to start receiving the vaccine around March 5,” a governor's office news release said on Jan. 29.

Later, the newly updated schedule for phase 1B.3 officially included people age 60 to 64 and specified agricultural and grocery store employees as the frontline workers with new priority. The phase included people age 16 to 59 with two or more high-risk conditions. The change was dated Feb. 26.

For a list of high-risk conditions, see the chart about three-quarters of the way down the page here. See a more detailed description of vaccine phases at that link.

Phase 1B.3 began as expected, time-wise, March 5.

The state also added phase 1B.4 that included people age 50 and older — giving those Coloradans earlier priority than before — along with other frontline workers and people ages 16 to 49 with one higher-risk condition.

That included frontline workers in the following fields: higher education staff in community colleges and colleges, food and restaurant services, manufacturing, the U.S. Postal Service, public transit and other transportation, governmental public health agencies, human services, faith leaders, direct care providers for Coloradans experiencing homelessness, and frontline journalists.

The phase somewhat mirrored the previously planned phase 2, which was set to begin in spring for Coloradans ages 60 to 64 and people with one high-risk condition.

There were no changes to the definitions of the state's phases since Feb. 26, Victoria Graham, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, said in mid-March.

The timing of Phase 1B.4 was moved up a couple of days from its originally set timing of March 21, Graham said.

The newer definition of phase 2 — eligibility for the general population — was expected to begin sometime in April. It starts April 2, the governor’s office announced March 29.

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