Uncertainty Surrounds COVID Vaccine Shipments To Colorado

Ron Seeders is ready to get his coronavirus vaccine and get back to playing flat top guitar in the country music sessions he used to host at the Foreign Legion on Simms. They haven’t played there together since March 2020.

At 83, his doctor tells him the COVID-19 vaccine is a good idea, especially as a kidney transplant recipient years ago.

“He didn’t tell me how I would get it, he just told me he would like for me to have it. But it’s going to be a-ways down the road.”

And like the old Willie Nelson classic, the road seems pretty long before vaccinations for those over 70 get rolling so he can find out where to get one.

“I’m not sure how.”

“Prior to that release of that new updated plan we had not been planning for individuals 65 and over or 70 and over until the second phase,” said Karen Miller, immunization nurse manager for Tri-County Health and a member of the state’s vaccine planning team.

Adding people over 70 means a huge bulge in the population now in Phase 1 of vaccination distribution.

“That population is 562,000 individuals.,” said Miller. “So, it’s a large number of individuals to reach. We also have to have sufficient quantities of vaccine.”

Right now, the state is dealing with getting fewer doses of the vaccine than initially planned as states around the country have dealt with shortfalls under the federal government’s plan.

“You know, it is an additional problem and I know that early estimates of how much vaccine we would get, they were estimates.”

State and local health departments are reaching out earlier to places like pharmacies and urgent cares that were likely to play a big part in Phase 2 under previous planning.

“Our planning efforts and the number of enrolled providers were not taking into consideration vaccinating the general public. It was focused, on in-patient and outpatient health care workers and long term care facility staff and residents,” said Miller.

The good news is, many pharmacies and urgent cares do have some storage capability. Most already do vaccinations for things like the flu or shingles and hope to play a role.

“Absolutely and we do vaccine all the time so hopefully we’ll be able to help,” says pharmacist John Urrutia, owner of Union Square Pharmacy in Lakewood. “I’m not sure on the supply channel end, I haven’t really gotten that much information about it.”

But that’s likely because efforts to distribute the vaccines to those places are just getting started, because Gov. Jared Polis announced only last Wednesday that Phase 1 would include those over 70.

But few have ultra-cold storage necessary for the Pfizer vaccine, up until within five days of use.

“Not all providers have the capacity to store that vaccine. So for them, the other product, the Moderna product would likely be a better fit,” says Miller.

It can be held under refrigeration for up to 30 days. There are enough doses being held out for the needed second shot for those already vaccinated says Miller.

“So right now all of the current doses we receive we are encouraged to administer. Then the second doses will be held back and we’ll get those in three or four weeks. So we will administer those in addition to those new allocation for first doses.”

With the larger Phase 1, Miller believes Phase 2 is still awhile out, “And if I were to estimate, I would say end of Winter, beginning of Spring. It’s really hard without knowing what amount of vaccine will be coming into Colorado in the future. We have the pretty good idea for January and we don’t know after January.”

Then they’ll have to figure out how to get the next group vaccinated.

“Those that fall under the dotted line, which are a lot of our essential workers including teachers, grocery store workers, all of those individuals. That is an even bigger population of approximately 630,000 individuals.”

Ron is just hoping to get his as soon as he can, “Amen brother, amen.”

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