By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado has been selected to take part in an initial test for shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Creating an effective vaccine was just one step. Getting it to people to protect them could prove more difficult.

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With its selection for the test, Colorado may have to step up by taking part in a “dry run” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Operation Warp Speed.

At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis said, “Generally we are very excited about this because it will enable us to have a dry run of what happens when we receive the vaccine and get it out just a couple weeks or so ahead of that.”

The vaccine developed by Pfizer in conjunction with BioNTech will require storage at subzero temperatures. Colorado’s test will use FedEx and UPS to deliver the vaccine from Kalamazoo, Mich. to the point of use within a day or two.

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Other shipping companies like DHL are gearing up for vaccine delivery around the world. Special containers that can be tracked with GPS devices will be used.

“Colorado is fortunate to be part of this pilot, to really be able to test our systems, to learn from areas we identify lacking efficiencies so we are ready when the time comes,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

During the test, Colorado will identify a location to receive the test shipment, make sure orders have been linked to the CDC tracking system, receive a thermal shipper and report receipt of it and kits to administer the vaccine.

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The big question remains when the vaccine will be approved and ready for use in Colorado and elsewhere. Lives are depending on it.

The first vaccinations in the state are to go to first responders such as police and firefighters. The next category is for those in long-term care facilities, those in prison and homeless shelters. The process to get everyone vaccinated is expected to take months. The initial vaccination will need to be followed up by a second dose about a month later.

Rick Sallinger