With Vaccines On the Way, Polis Warns Colorado To Be ‘Very, Very Careful This Christmas’

Virus Outbreak Colorado
David Zalubowski/AP
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis talks about how the state is working to contain the coronavirus, during a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Denver.

Dec. 14, 2020: The first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 have arrived in Colorado. Our original story continues below.

Gov. Jared Polis warned Friday that even with thousands of doses of the first COVID-19 vaccine just days away from Colorado, masks and distancing will remain the best way to control the virus for months to come.

“People just need to be very, very careful this Christmas. Some of your elderly relatives and nursing homes might be getting the vaccine around Christmas, but here's the important thing to remember: They are not immune right when they get that at first dose,” Polis said. “So they get that dose. It doesn't mean that they can be safely visited the next day, right?”

The governor spoke Friday as the state released a list of hospitals that will be getting the first doses of a vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, which was expected to be approved by the FDA for emergency use as soon as Friday night. Those will be used to inoculate health care workers who spend at least 15 minutes a day with COVID-19 patients and nursing home workers and residents, who are among the people most vulnerable to the worst of the virus.

“To be as fair and efficient with distribution as possible, the state has developed a phased approach to vaccine distribution to save lives and end the crisis that has been brought on by the pandemic as quickly as possible,” read a release accompanying the list of recipients.

More than one third of the initial 46,800 doses from Pfizer, or more than 17,000, will go to hospitals affiliated with the UCHealth system. Another 4,875 to Children’s Hospital Colorado and 2,925 to Denver Health. The rest are scattered across the state.

Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be required for it to be effective.

“They might have some resistance within a couple of weeks, but the second dose is 20 to 25 days later,” Polis said of vaccine recipients. “And then 10 days after that...that means grandma, grandpa is safe.”

A second vaccine, made by Moderna, is also in the FDA pipeline awaiting emergency use authorization. Colorado is in line to receive 95,600 doses of that vaccine should approval be granted.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at -70 degrees celsius, requiring special refrigeration systems, the Moderna vaccine can be stored at just below zero degrees fahrenheit, allowing it to be more widely distributed across the state.

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