COVID-19: When can veterinary professionals get vaccinated in Colorado?

COVID-19: When can veterinary professionals get vaccinated in Colorado?

Originally published: December 21, 2020 | Last updated: February 26, 2021


What is CVMA doing to advocate for veterinary professionals in terms of getting a vaccine?

Since November 2020, CVMA has been tracking information about the state’s vaccine prioritization plan and has been sharing updates with CVMA members via email and on the CVMA website throughout that time.

On January 13, CVMA developed a letter for its members stating that veterinary professionals should be considered in Phase 1B vaccine prioritization. Based on published CDC guidance from January 2021, CVMA believes that veterinary professionals should fall within the “food and agriculture” category in Phase 1B as this is consistent with the existing guidance. Log in to your profile or contact CVMA at info@colovma.org if you are a current CVMA member and need a copy of the letter. Note: This letter does not guarantee  vaccine access. Some veterinary professionals have successfully used it to obtain their vaccines in their county; however, this varies.

Throughout January, CVMA has been advocating behind the scenes to gain clarification on where veterinary professionals fall in the vaccine plan, and to advocate for appropriate priority access.

On January 27, CVMA sent a formal request to state officials requesting that veterinary professionals be officially designated within Phase 1B.

Throughout February, CVMA had multiple conversations with state officials regarding the importance of placing veterinary professionals in Phase 1B.

On February 24, CVMA sent another formal request to include veterinary professionals in Phase 1B.

I’ve heard that veterinary professionals in some Colorado counties are receiving the vaccine; can all veterinary professionals make an appointment to receive a vaccine now?

It’s complicated.

From a county perspective, actual vaccine distribution appears to vary widely. CVMA has heard of some veterinary professionals successfully receiving the vaccine in some counties; however, CVMA has also heard that others have been turned away. The state has given counties some flexibility to vaccinate outside of specific phases to ensure no doses are wasted. The state has also made it clear that individuals seeking a vaccine do not have to receive it from the county in which they reside.

From a state perspective, the state of Colorado has not officially designated where veterinary professionals fall in the prioritization planning. Many veterinary professionals are becoming eligible for a vaccine based on their age. According to the state, all Coloradans age 60 and up are eligible for a vaccine starting March 5. The state anticipates all Coloradans age 50 and up will be eligible for a vaccine starting March 21, depending on vaccine supply.

From a national perspective, in mid-January the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) identified those providing “veterinary services” (e.g. veterinarians and their teams) as essential workers that should be included in Phase 1B in the “food and agriculture” workforce category.

What are the phases all about?

Every state has developed its own vaccination prioritization plan that includes vaccine distribution in “phases.” Colorado has 3 phases that are broken down as follows:

  • Phase 1A: Highest-risk health care workers
  • Phase 1B.1: First-responders, moderate-risk health care workers, and people age 70+
  • Phase 1B.2: Pre-K-12 educators, continuity of state government, and people age 65+
  • Phase 1B.3: Frontline essential agricultural and grocery store workers, people age 16-59 with 2+ high-risk conditions, and people age 60+
  • Phase 1B.4: Other frontline essential workers, people with high risk conditions, the continuation or operations for state government and continuity of local government, and people age 50+
  • Phase 2: The general public

Click here to view more detail on the state’s website.

I want a vaccine as soon as possible — what should I do?

From a statewide perspective, the best way to track when veterinary professionals will receive their vaccine is based on their age.

This is a very fluid situation and vaccine availability and prioritization is likely to change often.

Some counties may be willing to vaccinate those working in veterinary services if they have extra vaccines not being used or in the event of cancellations — CVMA recommends contacting your local county to see what their vaccination guidelines are. Click here to view information on the state’s website about how to contact vaccine providers.

What does Colorado’s overall vaccination plan look like?

On December 9, 2020, the state released an initial vaccine prioritization plan; the state updated the plan on December 30 and then again on January 29 based on new vaccine supply information from the federal government.

The prioritization document is subject to change quickly – click here to view the document and see the current status. State officials are expecting a very limited initial supply of vaccines for the first several months. There are multiple vaccine working groups and task forces working on the vaccine prioritization timelines at the state level.

What documentation will need to be produced to verify an individual’s priority group?

There are no statewide requirements for documentation identifying an individual’s priority group.

However, CVMA has heard reports of this varying county to county and from provider to provider. CVMA has developed a letter that CVMA members can use if needed. This letter was emailed to CVMA members January 13, 2021. Please contact CVMA at info@colovma.org if you are a current CVMA member and need a copy of the verification letter.

Can I stop doing curbside once my staff and I are vaccinated?

AVMA and CDC are encouraging continued social distancing and mask-wearing even after individuals receive the vaccine. When possible, veterinarians and their teams should continue curbside care to continue protecting their staff, clients, and community.

How was the state’s vaccination prioritization plan developed?

In September, the CDC issued a Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations that served as an interim guide for state and local public health programs for planning and operationalizing vaccination responses on the local level. On the national level, AVMA has also advocated for early vaccine access for veterinary team members.

How does Colorado’s plan compare to other states?

Each state has developed its own vaccine prioritization plan, and veterinary professionals may be classified in different phases or stages of access in other states.

In January, CVMA participated on a call with AVMA and other state VMAs who reported variations with vaccine access throughout other states. AVMA and other VMAs are also advocating for clarification and for priority access for veterinary professionals.

Where is there more information available?

Click here to visit the state’s website for more information on COVID-19 vaccine, including informational FAQs, details on the vaccine allocation plan, information about vaccine providers, and additional background on vaccine safety and development.



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