DENVER — Colorado will expand vaccine access to those 60-64 years old starting March 5, Gov. Jared Polis announced in a news conference Friday.
Also included in the expanded access — known as phase 1B.3 — will be agricultural processing plant workers, grocery workers and Coloradans ages 16-59 with two or more comorbidities.
Comorbidities include cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, estimated 958,000 people will be part of phase 1B.3, including 200,000 grocery workers and 400,000 people ages 16-59 with comorbidities.
The state also hopes to make the vaccine available to those 50 and older by the end of March, a phase known as 1B.4. Essential workers such as postal workers, higher-education faculty, faith leaders and direct-care providers for the homeless will be among those eligible in Phase 1B.4.
Polis on Friday announced a target date of March 21 for 50-and-older access to the vaccine, though that could change depending on supply.
Polis also reiterated: All Coloradans 65 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine now and can make an appointment to receive a dose.
Polis said about 67% of Coloradans 70-and-older have received a dose of the vaccine; Colorado's goal was to vaccinate 70% of 70-and-older Coloradans by the end of February. Vaccine events are taking place over the weekend, including one in Thornton, which still had 1,700 spots available as of Friday afternoon.
Polis strongly encouraged all eligible Coloradans to sign up for the vaccine. Coloradans can visit cocovidvaccine.org for information on how to sign up for the vaccine.
With job-specific vaccine access happening through the end of March, Polis estimated that vaccine access to the general public could happen as early as the end of April or the beginning of May, depending on supply.
Colorado Brigadier Gen. Scott Sherman, who is coordinating the state's vaccine distribution, said Colorado's supply should receive a major boost once the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved for use. Colorado should receive about 400,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of March, Sherman said, if 20 million doses are made available nationwide.
Sherman said the state is expecting an announcement from the White House in the next week about the expected increase in vaccine supply.
Polis cautioned Coloradans to stay safe, despite an increase in vaccine distribution. The governor did not say if he would be extending the latest statewide mask mandate when it expires next week, but he urged Coloradans to wear a mask anyway.
"The journey is not over, the race is not yet done," Polis said. "We need to continue to be patient."