Gov. Jared Polis asks feds for help with vaccines, PPE during Colorado’s flu season
Gov. Jared Polis on Monday asked federal health officials for help as Coloradans prepare for the flu season that will arrive later this year, including by making sure there is widespread access to flu vaccines and that health care workers have enough personal protective equipment.
While Colorado has taken steps to reopen businesses, churches and restaurants in recent weeks, the approaching flu season has the ability to strain the health care system as hospitals will have to treat patients with both influenza and COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, Polis said in a letter to the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“My administration has been working diligently to increase our vaccination rates,” Polis wrote in the letter dated June 8. “But we need to do even more this coming flu season, especially among older Coloradans and our vulnerable residents, to reduce the number of flu victims in need of hospitalization and free up those beds for COVID-19 patients if needed.”
The CDC, Polis said, needs to be able to respond to a “substantial” increase in the number of people getting the flu shot or nasal spray.
“Flu season is going to tax our PPE supplies as those giving vaccinations are going to need medical grade masks, perhaps shields and gloves to ensure they are protected from COVID-19,” he said. “While we have much better access to PPE than we did before, we are going to need help obtaining more.”
Colorado had well-documented difficulties in obtaining PPE supplies in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. That has eased, though, and as of last week, the state said it has spent $73.5 million on orders for more than 23 million medical masks, face shields, gowns and gloves, as well as 750 ventilators.
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