Governor Polis, Public Health Officials Discusses Plan for Vaccine Distribution When Available

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

DENVER – Governor Jared Polis today discussed the state’s response to COVID-19 and the state’s plan to distribute the vaccine once one is made available. The Governor was joined by Jill Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Dr. Eric France, CDPHE, Chief Medical Officer, and Diana Herrero, CDPHE, Interim Deputy Director, Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response. 

“We need to really limit social gatherings and getting together with other people for a couple of weeks to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Polis. “Even when a vaccine is available, all of our challenges will not be solved or eradicate COVID-19 from our lives overnight. Once there is a safe vaccine, it will take time for it to be widely available. There are important tools available right now like wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds, practicing social distancing habits, and washing your hands often. 

“We all hope for scientists to create a safe and effective vaccine and for now we need to remain vigilant about being safe and using these prevention tools to save lives and save our economy. Colorado’s COVID-19 vaccine plan will ensure that the vaccine is safe and distributed as efficiently and effectively as possible. We are prepared and we are ready,” Governor Polis concluded.

The State of Colorado is submitting the Colorado COVID Vaccine Plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), detailing how the state will distribute a vaccine when it is made available. The plan comes after months of work with doctors, public health officials, local government and public health leaders, pharmacies, individual stakeholders, community organizations and more. The plan was created with health equity in mind to ensure those disproportionately impacted communities have an opportunity to be vaccinated earlier. The state continues to closely consult impacted and at-risk populations, specifically the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and officials from the Urban Indian Health Program, advocates and individuals in communities of color, homeless shelters, advocacy organizations, and correctional facilities.

“Vaccine deployment extends far beyond public health,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, CDPHE. “The department, with support from the Colorado Department of Public Safety, convened a multi-agency, multi-sector team to focus on receiving and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. We want to recognize the many agencies and organizations that informed our planning, and thank them for their partnership and guidance. We look forward to working with more stakeholders so we can continue improving the plan.”

The Governor emphasized the timing for a vaccine and reminded Coloradans that even when one is announced, it could take up to a year to distribute widely. Gov. Polis and public health officials urged Coloradans to take advantage of the options available to them to stay safe and limit the spread of the virus including wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, washing hands frequently, and physically distancing. 

Gov. Polis also highlighted rising cases in Colorado and that the state’s positivity rate is beginning to creep above 5%. On Sept. 4, there were 132 confirmed COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and today Colorado has more than 350. Coloradans who think they have any symptoms or think they may have been exposed to COVID-19, can visit over 80 free, quick, and easy testing sites across the state. Find a testing site at covidtest.colorado.gov/map.

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