Coloradans 50-plus, more frontline workers up for vaccine

New phase began March 19; general public could be next in April


As vaccination efforts ramp up in Colorado, state officials expect to open eligibility to the general public sometime in April.

The latest batch of age groups and industries to reach priority is Colorado's “phase 1B.4,” which kicked off March 19 and includes people ages 50 and older, frontline workers in food and restaurants, manufacturing, and other occupations, and certain state and local government workers.

“More shots in arms means fewer lives lost to this terrible virus,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a March 12 news release. “Given our state's strides in administering this life-saving vaccine, we are thrilled to be taking this next step and anticipate that we can open up eligibility to the general public next month.”

Changes leading up to now

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 Department 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 specifies agricultural and grocery store employees as the frontline workers with new priority. The phase includes people age 16 to 59 with two or more high-risk conditions. The change was dated Feb. 26.

See the chart about halfway down the page here for a list of high-risk conditions. Phase 1B3 began as expected, time-wise, March 5. 

The latest schedule added phase 1B.4 that includes 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 includes 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, said Victoria Graham, a spokeswoman for the governor's office.

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

Mass vaccination efforts

Colorado was set to launch six state-run “community vaccination sites” across the state that will have the capacity to administer 6,000 shots per day, Polis' office announced in the March 12 news release.

The state launched the first state community vaccination site at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs on March 17. The drive-thru site was to start by providing 2,000 shots per day.

“The facility will be able to conduct 6,000 vaccinations per day once there is enough vaccine supply. All vaccines are free with no co-pay,” a March 17 news release from Polis' office said.

Coloradans who are currently eligible for the vaccine but have not yet received it will still be able to get a vaccine appointment as the state moves forward with 1B.4. People in the previous phases — such as Coloradans 70 and up — remain eligible and will still be prioritized, according to Tri-County Health Department.

Once the vaccine opens to the general public, vaccine providers will still be able to prioritize those who are at risk due to their age, along with others with high-risk conditions who have not yet received the vaccine, according to the March 12 release.


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