State calls for more vaccines from federal government to serve Coloradans

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — There just are not enough vaccines – that was the message from the state Monday as it pushes to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Leaders say Colorado could be serving hundreds of thousands more people, but they need more vaccines from the federal government to make this a reality.

“As of this morning, we have over 458,000 doses administered. That’s 99.7% of all the first doses we have in the state. So we’ve actually reached the point where we are relying on the federal government, Operation Warp Speed, as we get doses every week,” said Scott Sherman, Brigadier General.

Agency leaders overseeing vaccine rollout say the state is faring better than the nation with vaccine administration, marking Colorado’s Phase 1A as complete. While it sounds like good news, leaders say it could be better.

“We have asked the feds to send us as much vaccine as they can. We know that we could push more vaccines through than is currently available to us. Unfortunately, there is just a limited supply at the federal level. And so, we make each week with what we have,” said Scott Bookman, CDPHE, COVID-19 Incident Commander.

The state continues to work on making sure everyone eligible for the vaccine has can sign up for it, creating a new phone line to help folks who are having trouble. As solutions come, a new problem is on the horizon.

Reports out of the U.K. show the B. 1.1.7 variant that was first found in a nursing home in Elbert County may be more deadly and contagious than previous strains of the virus.

“We have a statewide system in place so we can identify these variants when they occur. Right now, we have a number of hospitals, 14 I believe, across the state that are submitting samples to our laboratory on a regular basis and our laboratory is doing sequencing on about 100-200 specimens every week,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. 

When the state finds the variant, those cases get priority for contact tracing to keep it from spreading. So far, there are 10 variant cases in Colorado.

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