Polis blasts lack of vaccine influx

Trump administration `lied' about existence of reserve, governor says


Top federal officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump, “spoke out of turn” and lied to Colorado and other states about an incoming influx of vaccines that didn't exist, Gov. Jared Polis said Jan. 15.

“I come before you extremely disappointed that we were lied to with plans of the administration to release reserve doses that were to be second doses of the vaccine,” Polis said.

“There is no influx of doses, contrary to a call we had with the vice president (and) the secretary of health three days ago where they informed us we would be getting additional quantity available to the state.”

Colorado had been scheduled to receive 210,000 doses the week of Jan. 18, the governor said, significantly more than the 79,000 doses that state is now planning to receive and the 70,000 doses that is typical.

That influx would've allowed the state to accelerate its efforts to vaccinate its older population, an effort Polis says is now expected to again be 70% finished by the end of February.

The morning of Jan. 15, the Washington Post reported the supposed federal reserve of doses did not exist, despite reassurances from Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Polis said he found out about that “nonexistent” stockpile in a Jan. 15 call with Gen. Gustave Perna, who's working on the federal distribution effort.

The 79,000-dose shipment the state is scheduled to receive the week of Jan. 18 is still a slight improvement from previous allocations, and Polis said he's anticipating between 90,000 and 100,000 doses per week through the first three weeks of February.

He expressed hope the incoming administration will live up to its promise of 100 million doses distributed within Joe Biden's first 100 days in office.

The supply might be further bolstered if the federal government authorizes another vaccine candidate, made by Johnson & Johnson.

Unlike the current vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, this latest inoculation is expected to be delivered in a single dose, instead of two.

If there's a silver lining to the feds “lying” about Colorado's allocation, it's that the state had been planning “conservatively” based on its previous allocations, Polis said, so this significant scale down won't necessarily affect the state's previously laid plans.

Still, had the state received that larger shipment, it would have allowed providers to inoculate roughly half of the state's unvaccinated population of adults over the age of 69.

That, in turn, would've accelerated the state's ability to get to those older than 64, whom Polis announced earlier this week will be next in line.

Before his news conference, the governor replied to a tweet from 9News reporter Chris Vanderveen.

Vanderveen had linked to a story from the Washington Post, which reported that despite promises that more doses would be shipped next week, there was no such reserve and that all states would be receiving their previously scheduled allotments.

Polis tweeted that he was “shocked” that the state had been “lied to.”

Polis and other officials in Colorado have said the state is ready to distribute more vaccines; the obstacle is the limited supply of the doses.

The governor said he understood why older Coloradans were clamoring to get the vaccine and frustrated by the wait times, but he said the state was receiving fewer than 80,000 doses a week currently and that there were 535,000 people in the current, 70-plus years old priority.

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