For local public health agencies and healthcare providers only:
For general questions about COVID-19:
January 14, 2021: Physician Town Hall: COVID-19 Vaccine Update (Webinar, 1 hr 29 mins)
January 13, 2021: Update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution from Governor Jared Polis
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) submitted its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for review and feedback on Oct. 16, 2020. We appreciate the input that Colorado physicians and the Colorado Medical Society made to this plan. This initial plan is purposefully designed to evolve as more information about the vaccine becomes available and work with stakeholders continues. A number of points within the plan stand out.
Slowing the spread cannot wait for the vaccine.
First and foremost, any prospect of a COVID-19 vaccination in the future must not replace continued actions in the present to slow the spread of COVID-19. We need to remain vigilant now, and throughout the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. We encourage you to continue to talk with your patients about appropriate prevention methods including wearing a mask in public, maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from others not in their household, avoiding large crowds, washing their hands often, and staying home when they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.
Vaccine approval must be driven by science.
Much like the medicine you practice every day, we believe that rigorous science must be the guiding principle in the vaccine approval process. Independent advisory committees to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) review vaccine safety and effectiveness data before any vaccine is approved or allowed for distribution, whether that is through normal regulatory approvals or under an Emergency Use Authorization. Colorado will continue to rely on the clinical and public health expertise of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) to provide guidance on distribution and use of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Using multiple scenarios to plan for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There is still much we do not know about the COVID-19 vaccine. We don’t yet know which vaccines will be available and when, how many vaccines will be available, which vaccines will come to Colorado, or what the vaccine’s handling and storage requirements will be. We are still waiting to learn what the safety profile and level of effectiveness of those vaccines is, how long the vaccine may provide protection, or if there is a certain percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve protective levels. In light of these unknowns, the state is doing everything possible to prepare for various scenarios.
Colorado plans to implement a phased approach to distributing an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Because the initial supply of vaccine is expected to be very limited, it will be distributed first to people most at risk for COVID-19, such as health care workers, first responders, and staff/residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The next stage will be people living in congregate settings, essential workers with direct interaction with the public or in high-density settings, and at-risk populations more broadly. After that, the next phase is the general population. The state will continue to provide information about how it is making decisions on how to prioritize distribution before a vaccine becomes widely available.
Distributing a COVID vaccine to the entire state will take time.
While we are planning to act swiftly, we expect the process could take several months, or potentially more than a year, to distribute a vaccine to everyone who wants one. We will work closely with local public health agencies, health care providers, and other partners to distribute the vaccine as equitably and efficiently as possible. We have not yet initiated provider enrollment in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, but you can express interest by submitting a COVID Vaccine Provider Interest Survey through the end of October or possibly later.
Review the entire Colorado COVID-19 Vaccination Plan that was submitted to the CDC here. Future actions will include expanding outreach to stakeholders and conducting exercises of this plan to test its effectiveness and make improvements before actual COVID-19 vaccinations arrive.