DENVER (AP) — The Colorado health department announced its plans to distribute the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Friday.

Approval of the Pfizer vaccine from the federal Food and Drug Administration is expected to come over the weekend. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released the locations of health facilities in urban and rural Colorado to receive the first shipment of 46,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Facilities in Denver, Aspen, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins were some of the chosen locations for the first Pfizer vaccines. For the initial shipments, 46 health care facilities will receive Pfizer vaccine doses, 151 facilities will get Moderna doses and 40 of them will get both.

The locations were selected for their abilities to store the vaccines in -60°C to -80°C temperatures and willingness to redistribute the vaccines to other providers in the region, according to the Colorado health department. The state purchased 10 ultra-cold storage units and the health department has distributed eight of them with the remaining two to be distributed on Friday.

On his Friday COVID-19 update, Gov. Jared Polis warned about the continued risks of coronavirus infections after the vaccine's first dose and emphasized the importance of a second dose for full immunity.

“It's possible some of your elderly relatives in nursing homes might be getting the vaccine around Christmas but here's the important thing to remember: they are not immune right when they get that first dose," Polis said. “So they get that dose, it doesn't mean that they can be safely visited the next day.”

Polis also asked Colorado residents to double-down on social distancing, mask-wearing and celebrating the holidays safely, as the vaccine is in sight.

Polis said Friday there were more than 4,600 new COVID-19 cases and over 1,500 hospitalized. Over 3,000 Colorado residents have died from the virus and Polis said about one-third of those deaths have occurred over the last month or two. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Polis joined governor's from Utah, Arizona and Nevada in a letter sent Friday to U.S. Senate members involved in the bicameral COVID-19 relief legislation.

In their letter, the Western governors said the proposed bill would “unfairly and inequitably distribute revenue across the states.” The bill, now up for approval in the Senate, aims to distribute funds based on the state's population and revenue loss.

“The current formula ... would significantly disadvantage Western states like ours that have a low tax rate and have had minimal business shutdowns during this pandemic, as compared to other states,” they wrote.

“As such, we would strongly encourage you to consider revising the revenue formula to be either a straight-forward proportional distribution by population or an economic indicator, such as change in unemployment rate,” they added.

For most people, the new 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.