COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Virginia Voelker gives a thumbs up after receiving her COVID-19 vaccination at a UCHealth clinic in Colorado Springs in February.

Colorado hit a vaccination milestone Feb. 28: 70.7 percent of Coloradans aged 70 and up are now vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Since we received that very first dose of the vaccine in mid-December, we've been racing against the clock to get the vaccine to those who are at highest risk,” Polis said.

“We set a very bold goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Coloradans 70 and up by February 28 … and we set it knowing that it would be a stretch to reach there. … We are proud to be at 101 percent of that goal by February 28.”

“As you know, people 70 and up have represented 78 percent of the deaths in Colorado from COVID, and just over 40 percent of the hospitalizations," Polis added. "So we've made tremendous progress towards protecting folks that will significantly bring down the death rate and, in a significant way, reduce the hospitalization rate.”

On Friday, March 5, vaccinations will open to Coloradans in Phase 1B.3, including those aged 60 and up, grocery store and agriculture workers, and those aged 16-59 with two or more comorbidities.

“It’ll take several weeks. … There are simply not enough vaccines for everyone who’s eligible to get it all at once,” Polis said.

Polis also announced that Colorado placed its first order for the newly FDA-approved one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 1. Colorado expects to receive 45,500 doses this week, which will be administered across the state.

Additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not expected next week, but Colorado is planning for an increase in Johnson & Johnson doses starting in late March. The Biden Administration expects 5 million-6 million doses of the J&J vaccine to be distributed by the Spring.

Polis said the national supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is increasing by 700,000 doses from 14.5 million this week to 15.2 million next week. This should mean an increase of over 11,500 doses for Colorado for about 256,880 doses next week.In mid-March, Colorado’s supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is expected to increase further to 16 million doses, meaning an increase of another 800,000.

“News of increasing supply is a very very good thing,” he said.

Polis urged Coloradans to continue taking the precautions that have kept COVID-19 case numbers comparatively low, including social distancing, staying six feet apart from others, and wearing masks. 

“Remember, it takes the two doses, and some people are awaiting their second dose,” he said. “They might get it in a week or two, and then two weeks after that second dose is when they have the very, very high level of protection.”

As of March 2, Colorado has 776 new cases and 355 Coloradans currently hospitalized for COVID-19, Polis said, and to date 5,927 Coloradans have died from COVID-19.