Virus Outbreak Boosters

FILE - A patient waits to be called for a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot outside a pharmacy in a grocery store, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in downtown Denver. Infection rates have soared in Colorado over the past month, and Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, to expand the use of booster shots to quell the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

More than a third of Coloradans eligible to receive boosters for their COVID-19 vaccines have done so, a top state health official said Wednesday, two weeks after Gov. Jared Polis cleared the way for boosters to be more widely available.

More than 915,000 Coloradans have gotten a third dose (or second, for the minority who received the Johnson & Johnson jab), said Eric France, the state's chief medical officer. It's a promising sign as the state continues to battle its ongoing pandemic surge, which, with other pressures, threatens to overload the state's hospital system. Boosters have been proven to be highly effective at bolstering immunity that wanes months after initial doses. 

For those who received Moderna or Pfizer initially, boosters are available after six months. Johnson & Johnson recipients should receive an additional dose after two months. 

France said Colorado is a leader among states for booster uptake. Uptake among older residents is higher: More than 55% of long-term care residents, for whom boosters were prioritized in October, have received that dose, and France said the state is working to push that figure over 90%.

Initially, federal regulators approved boosters only for at-risk populations, which prompted confusion among the public and frustration from state leaders like Polis. He encouraged everyone who'd received doses months ago to do so, and two weeks ago, he signed an executive order making them officially available to everyone who qualified. 

The governor has made improved booster uptake a key pillar in helping to abate the hospital capacity the state is facing. Modeling suggests a 75% uptake in the next month can help lessen hospitalizations.

El Paso County to expand access to monoclonal antibody treatment

France acknowledged that there have been delays for some residents in getting booster appointments because of the high demand. As a result, the state is planning large-scale clinics — capable of doling out 1,000 doses a day — beginning Friday and lasting through the weekend. He announced three locations: Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs, the Douglas County Fairgrounds and the Pueblo Mall. 

El Paso and Pueblo counties have both been battered by COVID-19 hospitalizations amid the latest surge. 

For more information on boosters, including where to get one, visit covid19.colorado.gov.

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