Colorado unveils draft plan for who will get a coronavirus vaccine first |

Colorado unveils draft plan for who will get a coronavirus vaccine first

Health care workers get early priority, but there likely won’t even be enough doses to vaccinate all of them right away

John Ingold / Colorado Sun
A man receives a dose of an experimental coronavirus vaccine as part of a clinical trial for a vaccine candidate developed by BioNTech, which is based in Germany, and Pfizer.
Provided by BioNTech

After months of discussion, state health leaders on Thursday unveiled a draft plan for who will be first in line for a coronavirus vaccine when one likely becomes available in scant quantities toward the end of this year or early next year.

Though several vaccine candidates have entered the final stage of clinical trials, there likely won’t be enough supply of any of them to vaccinate all Coloradans for months after they have been approved. So states, working with the federal government, must come up with plans for whom to prioritize.

Colorado’s plan attempts to balance the need to protect frontline health workers while also delivering vaccine doses to people most at risk for severe illness and to communities of color, which have been especially hard-hit by the virus. It is still a draft plan because everyone involved in making it acknowledges there is considerable uncertainty about how the next few months will proceed — no vaccines have yet completed their clinical trials or received official approval; the federal government has not yet announced its plan for a vaccine rollout; and it’s unknown how many doses of vaccine will be initially supplied or when more will become available.

“This is going to be modified over time as we learn about the individual vaccine — which groups it is most effective on, which groups it is least effective on,” said Dr. Anuj Mehta, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health who helped create the prioritization plan.

The plan was presented Thursday during a meeting of the Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee, a group made up of health leaders from across the state who advise Gov. Jared Polis on how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The state must next week submit a broader plan to federal health authorities detailing how it intends to distribute vaccines.

The draft prioritization plan suggests rolling out vaccine allocation in four phases. Phase 1 puts an emphasis on delivering vaccines to health care workers, first responders and the highest-risk patient groups, such as those living in nursing homes. Phase 2 focuses on essential workers who interact with the general public in situations where social distancing is difficult, such as in grocery stores, and on other high-risk patient groups, such as those over 65 or people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes or obesity.

All other essential workers will become eligible for vaccination in Phase 3. And Phase 4 opens up to everyone else in the general population.

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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