As COVID Vaccines Inch Closer, Colorado Rolls Out Phasing Plan

Phase 2 will include people over the age of 65 and health care workers not already vaccinated, people at high risk of COVID-19 due to medical conditions like obesity, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

Colorado state health experts are rolling out plans for the three phases of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program. In the winter will come Phases 1a and 1b. It will start with highest risk health care workers and individuals then moderate risk health care workers and first responders.

Maybe the largest group in Colorado will be in Phase 2.

“Colorado is always planning for how we would respond,” said Tri-County Health Immunization Nurse Manager Karen Miller, a member of the state’s vaccine planning team. “They took into account planning from several years and data to formulate a plan.”

Plus, those who work in high density settings like meat packing plants, people who took part in vaccine trials, but got a placebo, and those who work directly with the public, like school staff and grocery workers.

“That’s absolutely that’s where I got it. Either from customers coming in, you know wearing their masks down here, or not wearing masks,” said grocery worker Lisa Arnold. There’s even risk in back rooms she said. “There’s lots of other people coming in, vendors, truck drivers.”

Arnold took a job at a store when she lost her job due to COVID-19 in March.

“And it had certainly been a godsend. I mean it was perfect timing, got it back in March and it helped pay all the bills.”

She worried about bringing the coronavirus home. She had a routine when she reached home.

“Shoes off, jacket off, uniform off, go in immediately wash your hands, immediately. Shower. You know almost like what my brother-in-law does as a doctor.”

Her 21-year-old daughter, Grace, has down syndrome.

“You know really trying to be as cautious as possible, and I ended up bringing it home and my daughter with special needs gets it.” The two of them weathered it together in November. “The sickest,” said Grace. “It’s coughing, it’s dying?”

They had crushing fatigue, breathing difficulties and coughing.

“It’s not the same when you have a kid who has underlying health issues. Then it’s a little bit more profound.”

Arnold has had difficulty with people who won’t comply with mask orders and put her and others at risk.

“Some of them are just incredibly argumentative. It goes both ways though. ‘I’m not going to wear a mask and you can’t tell me to.’ Or it goes the other way, where, ’You need to tell them to put a mask on because they don’t have one.’ And it’s a difficult position to be in because we’re not the police, and yet we’re still requesting that people do it.”

She won’t be in the middle of it much longer though. She’s quitting. Although wishes people could just follow science. The lack of it may have made her and her daughter sick.

“I mean it has nothing to do with politics. It’s all about the science. And I don’t understand why that can’t be more in the forefront.”

When vaccinations reach Phase 2 Miller says, “There will be a significant communications campaign. Where individuals should have a very good understanding on which phase within the vaccine response we are currently in.”

Rather than only a few places that will have the vaccine during Phase 1, that will be expanded to about 300 under current planning. So we will really utilize our current health infrastructure for Phase II.

“Primary care providers, pharmacies, local public health departments as well as hospitals. Maybe even urgent care centers.”

A Walgreen’s executive explained to CBS This Morning that appointments are likely.

Pharmacists, as trusted professionals will be sharing education about the vaccines. Cold storage will likely be less an issue as later vaccines will allow greater latitude. While the Pfizer vaccine, likely coming first, must be super frozen until only a few days before vaccination, the Moderna vaccine, likely coming next, will allow for storage at regular refrigeration for up to 30 days.

“It will just be listening for which phase you’re in, and if you are eligible to receive the vaccine at that time, then you would go to a designated COVID provider to receive your vaccine,” explains Miller.

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