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Colorado's Not Winning the Vaccination Race So Far

A look at a mass vaccination event at Coors Field on January 30.
A look at a mass vaccination event at Coors Field on January 30.
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During recent press conferences about the fight against COVID-19, Governor Jared Polis has repeatedly boasted that Colorado is in the top tier of states when it comes to the rollout of vaccinations — "getting shots into arms," as he puts it. But judging from the number of people who've been inoculated out of the state's population as a whole, Colorado is hardly near the top of the rankings. Updated statistics land the state in a tie for 23rd place with, among other places, Florida, which has been roundly criticized for its approach to the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

The best resource we've found for analyzing state vaccination rates is this Washington Post database, which offers real-time data for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. It notes that every state has established its own vaccine-distribution system, complete with individualized priorities that are often similar but seldom identical.

Colorado's list of groups placed closer to the front of the line currently include the following:

• High-risk front-line health-care workers
• Residents of long-term care facilities
• Adults over the age of 70
• Moderate-risk health-care workers
• First responders
• Adults over the age of 65
• Front-line essential workers including educators and child care workers and members of the Executive and Judicial branches of government
• People aged 16 to 64 with two or more preexisting health conditions
• Other essential workers including those in food, agriculture, manufacturing, and public transit, as well as grocery store employees and U.S. Postal Service employees
• People over the age of 60 who have high-risk health conditions
• Local government employees
• Adults who received a placebo during the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

As of late last night, February 4, the site stated that "Colorado has administered at least 472,820 first doses,
covering 23.7 percent of the prioritized population and 8.2 percent of the state’s population. At least 140,610 people have been fully vaccinated. The state has been allocated 638,000 first doses, enough to vaccinate 32.0 percent of the prioritized population and 11.1 percent of the state’s population."

While most of these measures differ from state to state, the percentage of vaccinations for the state's population offers as close to a level playing field as possible. The current roster shows a mix of small and large states at both the top and the bottom of the vaccinations-by-percentage-of-the-population list — from a low of 6.3 percent in Idaho and Iowa to a high of 15 percent in Colorado's neighbor to the west, Utah. In addition to Florida, Colorado is tied with Hawaii and Washington in roughly the middle of the pack — not terrible, but hardly the exemplar that Polis claims. Among the states doing better than Colorado are three more of its border buddies (Wyoming, Oklahoma and New Mexico) and even West Virginia, which frequently ranks among the poorest states in the nation.

Count down the states by the latest percentages below.

51 (tie). Idaho
6.3 percent of the state’s population

51 (tie). Iowa
6.3 percent of the state’s population

49. Alabama
6.6 percent of the state’s population

48. Kansas
6.8 percent of the state’s population

47. Illinois
7.1 percent of the state’s population

45 (tie). Massachusetts
7.2 percent of the state’s population

45 (tie). Pennsylvania
7.2 percent of the state’s population

43 (tie). Missouri
7.4 percent of the state’s population

43 (tie). Texas
7.4 percent of the state’s population

42. Rhode Island
7.5 percent of the state’s population

40 (tie). Ohio
7.6 percent of the state’s population

40 (tie). South Carolina
7.6 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). Nevada
7.7 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). Nebraska
7.7 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). Tennessee
7.7 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). California
7.7 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). Georgia
7.7 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). New Hampshire
7.7 percent of the state’s population

33 (tie). Minnesota
7.7 percent of the state’s population

32. Montana
7.8 percent of the state’s population

31. New Jersey
7.9 percent of the state’s population

27 (tie). Maryland
8.0 percent of the state’s population

27 (tie). New York
8.0 percent of the state’s population

27 (tie). Mississippi
8.1 percent of the state’s population

27 (tie). Kentucky
8.1 percent of the state’s population

23 (tie). Colorado
8.2 percent of the state’s population

23 (tie). Hawaii
8.2 percent of the state’s population

23 (tie). Washington
8.2 percent of the state’s population

23 (tie). Florida
8.2 percent of the state’s population

22. Michigan
8.4 percent of the state’s population

21. Arkansas
8.5 percent of the state’s population

18 (tie). Arizona
8.6 percent of the state’s population

18 (tie). Oregon
8.6 percent of the state’s population

18 (tie). Wyoming
8.6 percent of the state’s population

17. Louisiana
8.7 percent of the state’s population

16. South Dakota
8.9 percent of the state’s population

11 (tie). Delaware
9.1 percent of the state’s population

11 (tie). Virginia
9.1 percent of the state’s population

11 (tie). Wisconsin
9.1 percent of the state’s population

11 (tie). Indiana
9.1 percent of the state’s population

11 (tie). Vermont
9.1 percent of the state’s population

8 (tie). North Carolina
9.2 percent of the state’s population

8 (tie). Maine
9.2 percent of the state’s population

8 (tie). District of Columbia
9.2 percent of the district’s population

7. Oklahoma
9.4 percent of the state’s population

6. North Dakota
10.2 percent of the state’s population

5 Connecticut
10.3 percent of the state’s population

4. New Mexico
10.4 percent of the state’s population

3. West Virginia
11.1 percent of the state’s population

2. Alaska
13.5 percent of the state’s population

1. Utah
15.0 percent of the state’s population

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