DENVER | Gov. Jared Polis said during a news conference Friday he’s “extremely disappointed that we were lied to” after the Trump administration promised to deliver a surplus of vaccines that doesn’t exist.
The expected one-time delivery bump of COVID-19 vaccines would have accelerated the state’s efforts to vaccinate more than a half-million residents over the age of 70, Polis said. The governor was told Friday morning that the federal government couldn’t deliver on its promise, made in the waning days of the Trump administration, to hand states more vaccines by quickly doling out inoculations instead of holding them for second doses.
Polis said on Twitter the Trump administration had promised 210,000 doses of the vaccine would be delivered to Colorado next week. But The Washington Post reported Friday that the federal government had already been shipping out the doses since early December, and no reserve of vaccinations existed.
For the rest of the month, the federal government will ship Colorado about 70,000 vaccines per week. The number will jump to more about 100,000 in February, according to Polis.
In lieu of the delivery bump, the state’s effort to quickly inoculate Coloradans above the age of 70 will continue through February — the current priority on the state’s vaccination plan. So far, only 40,000 residents above 70 have been inoculated, according to Polis.
Asked whether the vaccine delivery disappointment was the result of political “vengeance,” Polis noted that all other states won’t receive the surplus either.
“My guess is it’s gross incompetence,” he said of the outgoing administration.
Polis said frontline medical workers, as well as people working and living in long-term care facilities and skilled nursing homes, have largely received their first dose of the vaccine. The inoculations developed by Pfizer and Moderna require people to receive a second shot after several weeks to become fully protected from the virus.
In total, Colorado providers have administered more than 240,000 vaccine shots into the arms of residents. About 58,000 shots have not been used. Polis said he expects those shots to be administered by the end of the week.
About 5.7 million people lived in Colorado in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
During his news conference, Polis also encouraged residents above the age of 70 to register for multiple vaccine appointments through different healthcare providers if necessary, and simply cancel the other appointments after they’ve received their shot.