Instead of doctor’s orders, you might say it’s the governor’s orders — and we welcome it this time: Long-anticipated vaccinations against COVID-19 are already well underway in Colorado for the highest-priority recipients. As of the middle of last week, some 44,000 doses had been administered under Gov. Jared Polis’ plan to direct Colorado’s early and still-scarce allotments to those most at risk on the front lines of the fight against the virus.
Recipients in the first phase under the state’s vaccination plan include health care workers in close contact with COVID patients and workers and residents at nursing homes. The next phase — already begun even as the first phase continues alongside — will vaccinate moderate-risk health care workers and first responders with less direct contact with COVID-19 patients. That includes workers in home health and hospice settings; dental workers, paramedics, firefighters, police, correctional workers, dispatchers and those who work in funeral services.
Colorado is expected to receive another 84,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, including unexpected doses that made up for a shortfall earlier in the rollout. Nearly 33,000 of those doses will come from Moderna, and 51,000 from Pfizer — the two pharmaceutical giants that pioneered the vaccine. They got the world’s attention in recent weeks with announcements the vaccine was imminent. The state previously had been told it would receive 20,000 fewer doses of the Pfizer vaccine than anticipated, but it’s now on track to get 3,000 more doses than expected. We’ll take it!
Meanwhile, among those who already have been receiving the vaccine are staff in the state’s prison system. Those include health-care workers at prisons as well as guards who oversee hospitalized inmates and who transport them. The inmates themselves will have to wait in line with the majority of us Coloradans — as they should.
As we noted here recently, the Polis administration has taken unwarranted criticism for assigning the same priority to the state’s prisoners as to the state’s population as a whole. The American Civil Liberties Union seeks court intervention to give prisoners special priority status, arguing that they live in close quarters and thus easily transmit the virus.
That is of course true, but prisoners also are, for the most part, relatively young and fit and at least theoretically less likely than the overall state population to overeat or abuse alcohol or drugs while behind bars. That means if they do contract the virus, most of them are able to weather it as well as most Coloradans who aren’t incarcerated.
Moreover, society does not rely on them to teach school; deliver Christmas packages; police our streets; fight fires; serve up fast food at the drive-thru; check out our groceries; treat COVID patients — shall we go on? There is no compelling reason to let them cut to the front of the line for limited quantities of vaccine.
In other words, the governor got it right in apportioning the first wave of COVID vaccine to those who need it most.
And he’s helping usher in a new day in Colorado.
The Gazette Editorial Board