Colorado is preparing to receive 95,600 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine a week after the first shipment of 46,800 vaccine doses from Pfizer and BioNTech, according to Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander. The Pfizer doses should arrive sometime between Dec. 13 and 16, Bookman said.
Bookman spoke during a remote news briefing Dec. 9 with Gov. Jared Polis.
“After we receive that Moderna vaccine the week of Dec. 21, we anticipate receiving shipments every week after that,” Bookman said.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are administered in two doses. The 46,800 and 95,600 doses in the first shipments from those companies would allow 142,400 people to get their first doses.
“We know that early doses are going to be very limited, but over time they will expand,” Bookman said. “All doses will be free, and every county will have access to this vaccine.”
The state’s revised vaccination plan includes a priority list of the groups that will get the vaccine first. At the top: the highest-risk health care workers and individuals, whom it defines as people who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, and long-term care facility staff and residents.
The next subgroup includes other health care workers, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and correctional staff.
There won’t be enough vaccine in December to vaccinate all inpatient health care workers, of whom the state estimates there are approximately 180,000. Doctors working in hospital COVID-19 units will be given first priority, Polis said.
Those in the first group will either get the vaccine from their employer or their local public health agency, Bookman said during the briefing. The distributors will vary by county.
In Boulder County, for example, the first doses of vaccine for health care workers will be distributed directly to hospitals, according to Boulder County Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis. “Boulder County Public Health will not be involved in this distribution,” Gousettis said in an email.
Residents and staff of long-term care facilities will receive the vaccine through a federal pharmacy partnership, which will most likely include Walgreens and CVS, Bookman said.
The Pfizer vaccine is about 95% effective against COVID-19, according to manufacturer trials. The Hill reported Dec. 9 that even without the second dose, the federal Food and Drug Administration considers the Pfizer vaccine to be highly effective — demonstrating an efficacy of around 89% in one study of people who received only one dose.
After two doses, the Moderna vaccine is about 94.1% effective against COVID-19, according to the manufacturer.
The FDA will consider Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use authorization on Dec. 10, and Moderna’s one week later, on Dec. 17. The emergency use process is part of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed aimed at accelerating the development of a safe and effective vaccine protecting people against COVID-19.
Children and pregnant women have largely been excluded from the vaccine trials, and won’t be able to receive either vaccine until data shows they’re safe for those groups.
The state is engaging community leaders and faith leaders in discussions, Polis said, in an effort to ensure Black people, Indigenous communities and people of color will have access to the vaccine and be able to trust its safety.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recorded an average of 4,281 new cases of COVID-19 each day from Dec. 1 through Dec. 7. That’s slightly lower than the daily average of 4,306 for the prior seven days.
As of Dec. 8, 1,629 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, plus an additional 126 people with suspected cases. One week prior, 1,847 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases, and 130 people with suspected cases.
“We still are hopeful that this is a plateau,” Polis said in reference to the latest data. “The hospital numbers have not gone up for a good week now.”