Colorado plans to start offering the coronavirus vaccine to residents ages 65 to 69 and all pre-school and K-12 teachers on Feb. 8, Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday.
Polis said it will take about three weeks to administer the vaccine to all educators who want it.
It will also be offered to child-care workers, school bus drivers and other school staff who work directly with children.
Polis said the decision was made to prioritize teachers because they are “foundational to our society to function, for workplace equity, for the sanity of families with kids.”
“We’ve seen startling increase in gender disparities in the workplace as many second spouses — and often in many cases its women — drop out of the workplace because there’s no school for their kids to go to,” he said. “When there’s a class out, or two classes out, that can also be disruptive.”
Scott Bookman, the state’s COVID-19 incident commander, said school districts will let teachers know how they can schedule their appointments.
He said many districts are partnering with hospitals to administer the doses.
Residents ages 65 to 69 can sign up with their health care providers to get schedule. But Polis encouraged people in that age group to wait until Feb. 8 to call about appointments to keep the “phone lines open” for people ages 70 and up.
He added signing up today will not place anyone further ahead in line, because the appointment invites will be randomized starting Feb. 8.
“We feel very good about the Feb. 8 date based on the supply,” Polis said.
Asked if he had any concerns about starting new groups before finishing vaccinating residents over the age of 70, Polis said the change would not interfere with the state’s goal of vaccinating 70% of that age group by the end of next month.
“What happens when you get to about 50% of the eligible group, is it starts to slow down,” Polis said of appointments. “The people who already wanted it, the easy ones, have already gotten it.”
Polis said if the state waited longer to open up vaccines to teachers and other groups, there might be more vaccines available than people signed up to give them to.