Supply chain will have major impact on vaccine timelines

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DENVER (KDVR) — After Dr. Anthony Fauci said the average person in Colorado could start to get vaccinated by mid- to late April, it appears that timeline has already taken a step back in a matter of just a week.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis laid out a new timeline for vaccine distribution, which had prioritized groups getting vaccinated in the winter and spring, and the general public getting their turn in the summer of 2021.

“This is probably a more realistic timeline, and if people get it sooner, people will be happy,” said Medical Director of Infection Prevention at UCHealth Dr. Michelle Barron. “I think the key is the supply chains and that’s ultimately what’s going to determine whether those timelines are that far out or potentially sooner.”

Pfizer is reportedly only sending out 50 percent of what is expected due to supply chain issues, and that news has had a ripple effect in the state’s planning for shipments and timing. 

“The best analogy I have is for anyone who’s done a remodel on their house. You’re told in terms of ‘Oh, we can get that done in two weeks!'” Barron said. “And then it’s like, ‘Oh, well, the tile is on back order and oh, the crews are on a different job.’ There’s all these people that have to be in sync for things to work out properly, and it’s never quite what people expect.”

But with more vaccines wrapping up trials and heading towards approval, the timeline of when the healthy public could get a chance for vaccination may move up.

“Having more than one vaccine available increases the supply,” Barron said. “Even if all of these get approved, they don’t just magically show up. They have to have been purchased and then there has to be enough manufactured doses available for them to get distributed.”

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