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Answers to your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado

Colorado has created a plan that involves rolling out the vaccine in phases. Governor Polis has previously said the general public may not get it until summer 2021.

DENVER — There is a light at the end of the tunnel after a year that none of us will forget. 

There have been more than 3,500 deaths due to COVID-19 in Colorado since the virus was first confirmed in the state since February, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). 

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Since then, communities have put unprecedented measures into place to slow the spread of the virus. But, health officials said there could be an end in sight now that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed in Colorado.

The first doses of the vaccine are being given to frontline healthcare workers and at-risk patients at nursing homes.

The next stages have led to numerous questions from Coloradans. Here are some of the answers to those that have been most frequently asked. 

How many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in Colorado as of today? 

The CDPHE has created a dashboard to answer that very question. See the latest vaccine numbers by clicking here.

Who is currently getting the vaccines? 

The first doses of the vaccine in Colorado are going to healthcare workers who treat COVID-19 patients and who are exposed to the virus as part of their job. 

Veterans at a nursing home in Aurora also received the vaccine. 

RELATED: Aurora veterans facility residents get vaccinated

What's the schedule for the rest of the vaccines? 

The supply of the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado is expected to be limited, especially in the first few months. 

Here is a chart showing who is expected to be in line for the vaccine when: 

Credit: CDPHE

Essentially, moderate risk healthcare workers and first responders are next on Colorado's list to receive the vaccine. 

Essential workers and people with high-risk conditions that make them higher risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms are slated to receive the vaccine in the spring, and the general public will be eligible in summer 2021. 

The CDPHE said it will determine when to move from one phase to another when it has gotten word from healthcare providers. The speed of the vaccine's rollout is largely dependent on supply. 

How many people will need to get the vaccine for the virus to no longer spread? 

According to CDPHE's website, that number is not known. 

"Until we better understand COVID-19 immunity, we won't know the percent of people needed for community immunity (sometimes called herd immunity)," the CDPHE's website says. 

Can the vaccine be required by the state? 

9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson said no.

Robinson pointed to a 1905 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that gave states the authority to enforce mandatory vaccination laws. That’s the basis for requiring school children to get certain vaccines before going to class. But as of right now, there isn’t a law in Colorado or anywhere that would make getting a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.

As for private companies requiring their employees get vaccinated, Robinson said the law isn't as clear, but that it's likely something employers will attempt to do. 

Can I stop wearing a mask after I am vaccinated?

No. For a couple of reasons, masks and social distancing will still be recommended for some time after people are vaccinated.

To start, the first coronavirus vaccines require two shots; Pfizer’s second dose comes three weeks after the first, and Moderna’s comes after four weeks. And the effect of vaccinations generally isn’t immediate.

People are expected to get some level of protection within a couple of weeks after the first shot. But, full protection may not happen until a couple of weeks after the second shot.

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