By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. Jared Polis announced on Wednesday that Colorado’s first round of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations includes 46,800 in the initial order with a second shipment of 95,600 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine expected just a week after that.

(credit: CBS)

The state will work to distribute the COVID vaccine to Colorado residents in three phases between now and next summer.

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“This vaccine is really the gateway to the end of the pandemic to return to normalcy,” Polis said.

Those phases include these groups:

  • Phase 1: Highest-risk health care workers and individuals
  • Phase 2: Higher-risk individuals and essential workers
  • Phase 3: General public

“We’re saying summer and that is all predicated on having enough for all Coloradoans who want it,” said Scott Bookman, COVID-19 Incident Commander for Colorado.

(credit: CBS)

“It’s going to take everybody working together to make this happen,” said Polis.

The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved Dec. 11-14 and shipment will occur in 24 hours. Colorado is expected to receive it between Dec. 13-16.  The Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive in Colorado about 1 week later, between Dec. 20-24.

“We’re ready,” said Polis when talking about Colorado’s anticipation of receiving the vaccine, using Tuesday’s test run as an example.

It had already been determined that eight distribution sites in the state have been identified. Vail Health, one of those sites, took part in a unique exercise to demonstrate exactly how it plans to handle the precious cargo.

From one vial of the mock Covid-19 vaccines pharmacists will reconstitute the vaccine to create five doses per vial at Vail Health Hospital on December 8, 2020.

From one vial of the mock Covid-19 vaccines pharmacists will reconstitute the vaccine to create five doses per vial at Vail Health Hospital on December 8, 2020. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“The first dose will be given and then 25 days later you’ll get a second dose of the vaccine and then 2 weeks later, you’re immune,” said Polis.

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“All doses will be free, and every county will have access to this vaccine. And the initial portion of phase one vaccines will be administered at local public health agencies, hospitals and health care systems. Some of our federally-qualified health centers, and a small number of pharmacies in the longer term, as more vaccine becomes available, you will see these administration sites expand into our rural health centers safety net clinics, doctors offices and then other locations that we need to stand up to ensure that all have access to getting this vaccine,” said Bookman.

The state showed maps of the locations where the vaccines will be stored, which are top secret.

“We will use a combination of National Guard and medical couriers to actually distribute them down to the local level,” said Colorado National Guard Gen. Scott Sherman.

A Vail Health Hospital technician shows a vial of the mock Covid-19 vaccine on December 8, 2020.

A Vail Health Hospital technician shows a vial of the mock Covid-19 vaccine on December 8, 2020. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Polis also said that everybody will be treated the same when it comes to getting the vaccine, according to the risk factors listed in the three phases.

“Every Coloradan is treated fairly under this. Whether you’re in prison or not, if you’re 67 years old or at risk. Wherever you are, you’ll have access to the vaccine when 67-year-olds have access to the vaccine, so nobody is penalized because they’re incarcerated and of course nobody is given any advantage because they’re incarcerated,” said Polis.

Vail Health Hospital pharmacy technician Rob Brown practices measuring the exact dosage for a mock Covid-19 vaccine in the sterile compounding room in the pharmacy on December 8, 2020.

Vail Health Hospital pharmacy technician Rob Brown practices measuring the exact dosage for a mock Covid-19 vaccine in the sterile compounding room in the pharmacy on December 8, 2020. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Polis reiterated that this vaccine is not going to alleviate the risk of coronavirus, and that Coloradans need to continue precautions.

“So, let’s double down in the next few weeks and months, wear a mask around others, it’s like a 50% effective vaccine that we have today, it reduces your chances by half of getting the virus. Staying six feet from others, don’t have social gatherings outside your household,” said Polis. “This is a marathon, we’re getting there.”

Polis and First Gentleman Marlon Reis recently tested positive for coronavirus and Reis was hospitalized. He has since been released and continues to recover at home.

The state has set up a helpline for COVID-19 vaccine questions at 877-462-2911, as well as a web site at covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine.

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Jennifer McRae