COLORADO, USA — Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) is ramping up the workforce who can deliver COVID-19 vaccines to Coloradans across the state expanding beyond nurses, doctors, and frontline workers.
Polis signed an executive order allowing health care professionals such as dentists, chiropractors and veterinarians to give vaccines to people in hospital-like settings where the state has already approved COVID-19 distribution.
The emergency rules were part of an executive order signed on Jan.11 and they apply to inpatient, outpatient, and hospital settings under certain delegations.
It will still be the responsibility of health providers who require extra staff to train and supervise volunteers in case a person receiving the vaccine has an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE).
H Howells, who owns Peace Wings, a mobile veterinary service, has already signed up on Colorado's Volunteer Mobilizer website to help out.
"I think it’s a really exciting change. Promoting the public health was something I swore to do when I took my oath of practice, veterinary medicine. This is a real concrete effort to help with that effort," said Howells.
This is the current list of approved professions under the executive order are certified nurses aide, practical nurses, podiatrists, optometrists, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, veterinarians, respiratory therapists, speech-language pathologists, and surgical assistants.
All healthcare professionals seeing patients in person are included in Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution plan. Colorado has met its goal of vaccinating the majority of Phase 1A health care workers with their first vaccine. If these professionals want a vaccine, they are currently eligible to receive it.
"My primary responsibility is still to keep my family and my clients safe so I really hope that all these new types of health care providers who get called upon can get vaccinated themselves in order to help. But really, I’d just like to contribute," said Howells.
The state is receiving around 70,000 doses a week, and so far is inoculating people in Phase 1A and the first half of Phase 1B of Colorado's vaccine distribution plan. That includes medical staffers with direct access to COVID-19 patients, people living and working in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, first responders, and anyone 70 or older.
Polis had hoped to accelerate vaccinations with an expected shipment of 200,000 doses this week through a release of the federal stockpile held in reserve to ensure people get their second doses. But on Friday Polis accused the Trump administration of lying and acting out of "gross incompetence" after learning the held-back supplies didn't exist.
"Being part of the solution. Keeping all of us healthy. Keeping our kids in school. Keeping everybody working and try to get to a place where we can put this in the past," said Howells.
Any public health professionals who qualify are asked by the state to reach out to their county public health departments and hospitals about volunteer opportunities.
More information on the process of signing up can be found here on the CDPHE website.
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