The first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Pfizer, have landed in Denver.
They arrived Monday via FedEx and went first to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment laboratory in the city’s Lowry neighborhood, where they were welcomed by Gov. Jared Polis, his staff, Colorado State Patrol and members of the press. Polis signed off on the FedEx package.
The 975 doses were stored inside a three-by-three-foot box with dry ice. The white box was moved into freezers shortly after arriving in Denver, since the vaccine requires extremely cold storage.
Polis — whose partner, Marlon Reis, was discharged last week from the hospital after contracting COVID-19 — appeared excited and relieved as he explained what the vaccine meant.
“This is a triumph of modern science,” he said. “When you think about how long it took to get prior vaccines like polio and others to market, years, even decades, some of them, this was one was done in record time.”
The state’s distribution plans calls for the doses to first be administered to frontline healthcare workers and people living in long-term care facilities. Polis said they would be administered on Monday. Colorado will get a total of 46,800 doses this week and will receive an estimated 96,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has yet to be approved, next week.
The doses delivered to the state lab will be given to two hospital in Denver: Rose Medical Center and Saint Joseph Hospital.
Denver’s cumulative COVID-19 case rate is 868.7, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. A spike in cases this fall prompted the city to enact stricter rules last month, including banning indoor dining and limiting retail capacity to 50 percent. Those restrictions will continue through at least Friday.
More than 600 people have died from COVID-19 in Denver. The disease has disproportionately affected people of color in the city, most significantly Latino residents. The city has opened free community testing sites after the large-scale testing site at Ball Arena closed in October.
Free COVID-19 testing will be available in Denver today at Denver Human Services East (3815 Steele St), Green Valley Ranch Pool (4455 Jebel St), Paco Sanchez Park (1290 Knox Ct), and Ruby Hill Park (1380 W Florida Ave). The sites will be open from noon to 3:30 p.m.
Colorado Public Radio reporter John Daley and pool reporters Jesse Paul of the Colorado Sun and Seth Klamann of the Denver Gazette contributed to this report.