DENVER (AP) — Colorado residents over age 16 will be eligible for coronavirus vaccines starting Friday, Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday.

“We still anticipate by mid-to-late May... everybody who wants the vaccine will have had the vaccine. So it'll take about six to eight weeks," Polis said.

Polis said there will be six mass drive-in sites for the state's eligible population and four mobile bus clinics to distribute vaccines to underserved communities.

State officials on Monday reported 807 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 324 hospitalizations, Polis said. Over 6,000 Colorado residents have died from the virus.

More than 1 million Colorado residents have been fully vaccinated and over 1.5 million have received their first doses, Polis said.

Despite the expanded eligibility, Polis said vaccine providers have been ordered to prioritize people in higher risk groups.

Polis said 16 and 17-year-olds can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and people over 18 can get the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

With the updated distribution, Polis said that the state could look forward to a “fairly normal summer” due to widespread immunity from vaccines.

Polis also said he would likely extend the statewide mask mandate into mid-April until the state transitions to county-controlled COVID-19 public health orders. He also said that the mask mandate would remain in place in public schools for the rest of the school year to avoid scaling back on in-person learning.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.


Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.