Coronavirus vaccine

Andrea Zeiner

Many local teachers, early childhood educators, and Southern Ute Indian Tribal members and employees were vaccinated in the last several days. KSUT’s Sarah Flower spoke with Liane Jollon of San Juan Basin Public Health about how the vaccine rollouts are going, and if they're expected to protect against new variants of COVID-19 found in the U.S.

Although the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the U.S. has been slower than most hoped for, millions of Americans have been able to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

But now what?

Public health officials say people who have been vaccinated should still take precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing, because vaccines aren’t perfect. It may be possible to pass the coronavirus to people who haven’t been inoculated yet, and questions remain about the more contagious variants.

This month we're introducing a new chart tracking vaccination rates in Colorado. You can see the latest figures on total vaccinations, providers, and how many Coloradans have received one or both vaccine doses, depending on the provider.

The Biden administration has announced that it will begin shipping about 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses a week directly to thousands of pharmacies in an attempt to address equity concerns and speed up the country's crucial inoculation effort.

The vaccines sent to pharmacies will be in addition to the millions of doses sent weekly to states, territories and tribes and that are sometimes administered at local pharmacies.

As the virus that causes COVID-19 continues its global attack, it has done what scientists predicted it would do — it has given rise to new, slightly different strains. How significant some of those strains will be to the pandemic is now under intense study. Meanwhile, demand for the currently available vaccines is outstripping the early supply, and some scientists have sparked controversy by suggesting holding off on booster shots until more people have had their initial shots.

President Biden said last Tuesday that his administration is already working on ordering more COVID-19 vaccine doses to increase the U.S. supply through this summer. But before that can happen, Pfizer and Moderna have to fulfill their commitments under their original federal supply contracts.

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.”

How COVID-19 Variants Affect Herd Immunity

Feb 1, 2021

The Biden administration has announced an agreement with an Australian company to bring the first at-home rapid COVID-19 test available without a prescription to the United States.

The news comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline, though the number of people in the hospital is still higher than it was during last summer’s surge.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday he welcomes the positive news about an additional COVID-19 vaccine announced in the past 24 hours, calling the results "really encouraging." And he added that the Biden administration hoped to be able to start vaccinating children by late spring or summer.

In Massachusetts, many young, healthy medical researchers are rolling up their sleeves to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, at-risk elderly are waiting on the sidelines. According to the state's phased vaccine rollout, seniors are not yet eligible for the shots but everyone employed by a hospital, including those working remotely, can get it.

This situation has infuriated many elderly adults. Carol Halberstadt, 82, is one of them.

In theory, Dr. Alice Weisz retired in 2016. But in practice, the retired endocrinologist in Virginia Beach, Va., has had a busy year. Last January, as COVID-19 reached the U.S., Weisz volunteered to help the local health department field phone calls. By late spring, she was sliding swabs up people's nostrils at drive-through COVID-19 testing sites.

From a medical ethics perspective, Arthur Caplan says the vaccine rollout in the U.S has been “somewhere between miserable, awful and what my grandmother would have called ‘fakata’ — meaning it’s been bad, very, very bad.”

COVID-19 vaccines are one of the nation's most precious commodities right now. Yet in many cases across the country, expiring doses have gone to waste.

Just last week, for example, the Ohio Department of Health suspended a vaccine provider in Columbus after nearly 900 doses spoiled before they could reach residents in long-term care facilities.

This page is updated regularly.

The U.S. is working to vaccinate a high percentage of its population against COVID-19 as soon as possible to stop the spread of the disease and end the outbreak in the country.

The mission becomes even more urgent as coronavirus variants emerge around the world, raising concerns that the virus could evade our efforts to control it, if the spread is not curbed quickly.

Faced with complaints the initial vaccine distribution in Colorado has disproportionately favored white residents in wealthier neighborhoods, state officials have announced several new efforts aimed at making the inoculation effort more equitable.

The plan includes requiring vaccine providers to report demographic data for those getting shots, multi-lingual advertisements aimed at reducing vaccine hesitancy and establishing new pop-up vaccine clinics in areas with more low-income residents and people of color.

State of Colorado

Colorado Governor Jared Polis addresses tackling the inequities of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and how his administration is working with Tribal communities. KSUT’s Sarah Flower has more.

Gov. Jared Polis needed a dry-erase board and some math skills on Friday as he attempted to clarify Colorado’s current vaccine distribution situation in front of a live TV audience.

Polis kicked off his latest COVID-19 update by blasting the Trump administration, saying it lied to Colorado and other states about speeding up distribution of millions of vaccine doses from a national reserve.

“I’m not going to cast dispersions; my guess is it’s gross incompetence,” he said.

President-elect Joe Biden tapped Dr. David Kessler, a former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to lead the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts for the incoming administration.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit


Colorado Clarifies How Residents 70 And Up Can Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Jan 8, 2021
Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post Pool Photo

Following confusion and frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to seniors in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis held a news conference on January 6 to talk about how residents ages 70 and up can try to gain access.

The head of the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech expressed confidence that his company's vaccine would be effective against a coronavirus variant rapidly infecting people across London and southern England.

U.K. officials have warned the new variant is likely to be more contagious than the various strains already circulating, though there is no evidence suggesting it is more deadly.

Host Lisa Mullins talks with Chief Medical Officer of the Indian Health Services’ Navajo area Dr. Loretta Christensen about distributing the COVID-19 vaccines amidst a second deadly surge.

This article was originally published on

Pfizer is pushing back on the Trump administration's suggestion that the company is having trouble producing its COVID-19 vaccine, saying it's ready to ship millions more doses – once the government asks for them. As the company spoke out, several states said their vaccine allocations for next week have been sharply reduced.

Here's what the key players are saying about a complicated situation:

What Pfizer says

Hungarian-born scientist Katalin Karikó believed in the potential of messenger RNA — the genetic molecule at the heart of two new COVID-19 vaccines — even when almost no one else did.

Karikó began working with RNA as a student in Hungary. When funding for her job there ran out, Kariko immigrated to Philadelphia in 1985. Over the years, she's been rejected for grant after grant, threatened with deportation and demoted from her faculty job by a university that saw her research as a dead end.

Through it all, Karikó just kept working.

The Food and Drug Administration says that some of the vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being distributed throughout the U.S. contain extra doses and the agency is encouraging hospitals and clinics to use the additional shots to speed up the nationwide immunization campaign.

The agency issued the guidance Wednesday after health care workers reported throwing out the excess vaccine, fearing it would be against the rules to use it.

The fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase this week as American health care workers started getting vaccinated — the first in what will be a massive effort.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's senior official for infectious diseases, predicts the United States could begin to achieve early stages of herd immunity against the deadly coronavirus by late spring or summer. And if that happens, Fauci anticipates, "we could really turn this thing around" toward the end of 2021.

The Food and Drug Administration released a detailed analysis Tuesday morning of the COVID-19 vaccine from drugmaker Moderna that supports the authorization of the company's vaccine for emergency use.

The FDA's briefing document along with one from Moderna were posted two days before a group of experts will convene to advise the agency on whether to grant the vaccine emergency authorization for use, or EUA, during the pandemic.

Rob Rawls

NPR's David Greene talks to Dean Brookie, the mayor of Durango, about the prospect of a vaccine after a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 in a local nursing home.