Colorado has the capacity to vaccinate far more people than it has been able to, but it can’t because the state just isn’t getting enough doses to dispense, and that has Gov. Jared Polis up in arms.
Polis said Tuesday that, to date, only about 5.5% of Coloradans eligible for the first doses have gotten them, and expects that only a small number of people over the age of 70 will get their first shot by the end of this week.
The state hasn’t been able to do more, however, because the supply just isn’t there, Polis said.
“It is frustrating how slow we are receiving vaccines,” the governor said. “This week, our banner week, we’re still at only one in five people over 70 that we have enough vaccine to vaccinate. At lot of the problems and frustrations that we hear would be gone if the state received three or four times the amount of vaccine because we essentially would be able to get to everybody over 70 who wanted it this week.”
As it is, however, the state only received 80,000 doses of the vaccines for the week, and with a statewide population of about 5.7 million, the numbers just don’t stack up for a quick turnaround in getting them into people’s arms, Polis said.
Still, Mesa County public health officials are planning to open a larger vaccination location at Two Rivers Convention Center by next Monday.
Doing so would increase tenfold the county’s ability to vaccinate more people, but that, too, depends on how many more vaccines the county can obtain, Mesa County Public Health Director Jeff Kuhr told county commissioners Tuesday.
“We have about 15,000 people on that list (of 70 and above),” Kuhr said. “We’re calling them in on a first-come, first-served (basis). So far, as of the end of last week, we’ve done 1,000 individuals in that group.”
He said the county has received only about 7,500 doses since they first started to arrive, most of which have been used for frontline health-care professionals who are working directly with COVID-19 patients and first responders. Some of those people are nearly ready to receive their second dose.
Kuhr said the hope is that the more people over 70, and ultimately 65, that can be vaccinated, the fewer deaths and hospitalization will occur, and the sooner the county’s economy can reopen. He said the department’s current capacity to inoculate people is at about 2,000 a week, and hopes to be able to increase that to as many as 20,000 a week — assuming the vaccines are available — with the new vaccination location at the convention center.
Kuhr said once that happens, there will be about 40 people on hand to vaccinate people.
Kuhr also said that the region’s long-term care facilities are getting vaccines directly from the state, and they report to have vaccinated about 94% of their staff and residents.
Polis said he’s hopeful that with a new administration taking over the White House later today, when President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office, that things soon will change.
“The key thing we value is competence in all of our partners,” the governor said. “I hope that they really put the A-plus team on this to really help get every possible dose out as quickly as possible.”