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Colorado moving to new COVID-19 vaccination phase next week — but some will now wait longer

Coloradans 60 and older, grocery workers and people with two or more chronic health conditions can begin getting the COVID-19 vaccine late next week, but state health officials are delaying vaccinations for restaurant employees and other essential workers who previously had qualified for the next stage of inoculations.

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Phase 1B.3 of the state’s vaccine rollout begins March 5. It includes:

  • People 60 and older
  • Frontline essential workers in food and agriculture, including grocery workers, meatpacking workers and agricultural processing workers
  • People 16 to 59 with two or more high-risk health conditions

Healthy people ages 60 to 64, now in Phase 1B.3, previously had been in Phase 2, which is tentatively scheduled for spring.

Other essential workers who previously had been in Phase 1B.3 will move to a newly created Phase 1B.4, which should begin around March 21. The delay is necessary because of supply constraints with the COVID-19 vaccines, officials said.

“We approached this in a way that tries to save the most lives, and is equitable, and ends the pandemic,” Gov. Jared Polis said in announcing the changes during a news conference.

That new Phase 1B.4 includes:

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  • People 50 and older
  • Student-facing higher education faculty and staff
  • Frontline essential workers in food/restaurant services, manufacturing, U.S. Postal Service, public transit and specialized transpiration, public health and human services
  • Faith leaders
  • Frontline essential direct care providers for people experiencing homelessness
  • Frontline essential journalists
  • Continuity of local government
  • Continuation of operations for state government
  • Adults who received a placebo during a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial
  • People 16-49 with one more high-risk health conditions

The latest modeling report from the Colorado School of Public Health estimated about one person in every 194 is currently contagious, which is a substantial improvement over the fall peak. If the current trend continues, Colorado could return to summer levels of cases and hospitalizations in April.

The average number of people that each contagious person infects has increased slightly, however, to 0.95. When the average rises above 1.0, an epidemic starts to grow again.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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