Colorado leaders expect the weekly supply of COVID-19 vaccines will increase significantly by next month, but the state initially will see a drop off in shipments of the just-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to production hurdles.

The state will receive its first 45,500 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, but shipments in the immediate future will be limited. Colorado will not receive any doses of the new vaccine next week, Gov. Jared Polis said during a media briefing Tuesday.

Production increases of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, however, mean Colorado will get an additional 11,500 doses of those shots next week, officials said.

“We’re excited to add that to the arsenal of weapons that will allow us to defeat this deadly virus,” Polis said of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, adding, “News of increasing supply is a very, very good thing.”

Colorado’s weekly vaccine allotment will grow from 256,880 doses next week to 405,600 doses the week ending April 11.

The update on the vaccine allotment comes as the Biden administration announced Tuesday that pharmaceutical company Merck & co. will help make rival Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in an effort to increase supply. The deal follows production delays by Johnson & Johnson, accoridng to The Washington Post.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that with the nation’s vaccine supply expected to grow, there should be enough doses for every American adult by the end of May — two months earlier than planned, and an optimistic timeline that mirrored a similar prediction from Polis earlier in the day.

“I’m confident that summer will be very close to normal based on these vaccine predictions,” Polis said. “We are very hopeful that people who want the vaccine will be able to access it in April and May in time to have a summer that allows them to enjoy everything that Colorado has to offer.”

Polis also noted during his briefing that the drop in new coronavirus cases has leveled out recently while other parts of the U.S. are seeing infections increase. Last week, Colorado saw cases increase in new COVID-19 infections for the first time in seven weeks. It’s too soon to know if it’s the start of a larger upward trend.

“We do not want Colorado to be one of those states,” he said, encouraging residents to keep wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding gatherings.

On Tuesday, the state health department reported 651 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 355 hospitalizations. At least 495,961 people have received both shots of COVID-19 vaccines, which are needed for those receiving the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

Colorado will move to the next phase of its vaccination rollout on Friday — Coloradans age 60 to 64 and people with two or more chronic health conditions — after the state hit its goal of inoculating 70% of people 70 and older against the novel coronavirus by Feb. 28. The state has prioritized older residents because they are at a high risk of severe COVID-19

The state’s supply of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is expected to increase by the end of March to an estimated 67,600 doses and reach as much as 101,400 doses by the second week of April.

Here’s how much vaccine supply Colorado expects to receive in the coming weeks.

Unless noted, the total includes estimated allotments of the three vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The estimates can change depending on supply.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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