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Colorado submits vaccine distribution plan as cases continue to increase

The state was submitting its plan Friday to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gov. Jared Polis said at a news conference.

DENVER — Colorado has submitted its plan for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as cases across the state continue to climb, said Gov. Jared Polis at a news conference Friday.

The distribution plan doesn't mean that a vaccine is available. An approved vaccine isn't expected to become available until late November at the earliest, and even then the supply would be very limited at first, Polis said.

"The world doesn’t transform overnight when there’s a vaccine that works," he said.

Meanwhile, Colorado's COVID-19 cases continue to increase. On Friday, the state was reporting 1,312 new cases and 352 hospitalizations, Polis said. He encouraged people to wear a mask, avoid gatherings and practice social distancing.

"This is a critical juncture," he said. "We have to do better."

If cases continue their upward trend, some counties might see more restrictions on places including schools, places of worship, and restaurants and bars. On Friday, the City of Denver announced a requirement for outdoor mask-wearing and limiting gatherings to five people.

RELATED: Denver limits gatherings to 5 people, will require face masks in certain outdoor settings

The governor was joined at the news conference by three officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE): Executive Director Jill Ryan, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France and Interim Deputy Director Diana Herrero.

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There is no exact timeline on when Colorado could start to receive vaccine doses, which vaccine that would be, and how many doses would be available, officials said. Also unknown are the efficacy of a vaccine and how long the immunization would last.

The state's preliminary vaccine distribution plan can be read here.

RELATED: State committee releases preliminary plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccine

The distribution plan from the Governor's Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee (GEERC) is meant to provide guidance for state-level distribution to local jurisdictions and to provide primary vaccine providers with guidance on who to vaccinate and when.

At the news conference, France highlighted four candidate vaccines that are in later-stage testing: from Moderna, Pfizer, Oxford Biomedical and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Two of those vaccines would require two doses that are 30 days apart, and the other two are being tested at one and two doses.

The distribution plan would take into account critical populations and health equity among all Coloradans, officials said.

"Everything we do at the state level will be based in science and community," Ryan said.

RELATED: 'We need to get this under control now': Polis provides update on COVID-19

According to the preliminary vaccine plan, there are four key groups to consider when deciding who gets the vaccine first:

  • Critical Workforce -- This group includes health-care workers, firefighters, emergency medical services, police officers and critical public health personnel.
  • Essential Workers -- These are people who work for critical businesses and are deemed essential by those businesses.
  • Individuals at Risk for Moderate to Severe Disease and Death -- Key risk factors for those in this group include living at a nursing or long-term facility, those 65 and over, and those who are obese or have diabetes, cancer or other conditions.
  • General Public -- Adults ages 18-64.

RELATED: State committee releases preliminary plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccine

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