DENVER – At least 95% of the nearly 10,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Colorado since mid-January were not vaccinated, according to data released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The CDPHE confirmed the data, first reported Monday by The Denver Post, in an email to Denver7 Tuesday morning. The department added that 78.7% of deaths among 717 people with COVID-19 who died since April 1 involved people who were not vaccinated.
A CDPHE spokesperson said the data shows that vaccination is the “best protection” against COVID-19 and the Delta variant spreading across the state and nation. Federal and state public health officials have been in Mesa County working to address the low vaccine rates there, high COVID case counts and hospitalizations and the spreading Delta variant for several weeks.
“We encourage all eligible Coloradans to get vaccinated as soon as possible. It is the easiest way to protect our friends, families, and communities and to return to the lives we love,” the spokesperson said.
Between Jan. 15 and July 10, just 4.7% of the 9,891 people hospitalized with COVID-19 were vaccinated with either one or two of the three vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization, the CDPHE said. The rest had not been vaccinated.
And between April 1 and July 3, just 21.3% of deaths among people who had COVID-19 involved people who had already received one or both doses, depending on which vaccine they received, according to the department.
The department noted that the percentage of deaths among people who had or had not been vaccinated involved people who died with COVID-19, but not necessarily due to COVID-19.
“Please note that the cause of death has not been reviewed yet, so these are considered deaths among COVID-19 cases and not deaths due to COVID-19 at this time,” a department spokesperson said.
Later Tuesday, the same spokesperson said the originally provided numbers “included partially vaccinated individuals” and that the data was amended “to compare individuals who are fully vaccinated to those that are not fully vaccinated.” The department said it considers people fully vaccinated to be 14 or more days past their final vaccine dose.
The amended numbers show 96.1% of deaths between Jan. 1 and June 30 involved unvaccinated people. Over the same time period, 97.4% of deaths due to COVID-19 involved unvaccinated people and 96.9% of hospitalizations did as well.
The Colorado School of Public Health wrote in its latest modeling report, published at the end of June, that the Delta variant accounted for more than 75% of infections.
The new numbers from the CDPHE come as data from across the country shows correlation between vaccinated people being less likely to have severe outcomes from COVID, less likely to be hospitalized and less likely to die of the disease — even as research continues on how effective the vaccines are against the Delta and other variants thought to be stronger. There have also been very few adverse reactions from the vaccines compared to the millions who have been vaccinated.
Data published by the CDC in late April showed adults 65 and up who received both doses of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) were 94% less likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated people and were 64% less likely to be hospitalized if they were only partially vaccinated.
The CDPHE also released data Monday showing that 146,390 Coloradans had not received their second vaccine dose yet – only about 4.4% of the 3.3 million Coloradans who have received at least one dose, which is lower than the 6% the number sat at earlier this month.
More than 3 million Coloradans have been fully vaccinated and more than 3.3 million have received at least one dose.
Cases have been ticking up here since June 19, when the seven-day average positivity rate hit 2.28%. The seven-day average positivity rate was 3.71% as of Sunday, according to CDPHE data. But hospitalizations have stayed mostly flat since the last week of June, though there is a lagging factor.
Vaccine administration in Colorado peaked from the end of March into early May but has declined steadily in Colorado since then. As of Tuesday, about 62% of eligible Coloradans have been fully vaccinated.
According to the New York Times’ COVID tracker, Colorado has seen among the lowest two-week case rate change and hospitalization rate change in the country. And state modeling data has shown over the past several months that the counties with the highest vaccination levels also have seen the lowest numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus.
“Given the large disparities in vaccine uptake across the state, we anticipate that areas of Colorado with low vaccination will be areas of concern in the months ahead,” the Colorado COVID-19 Modeling Group wrote in its June 30 report.
The CDPHE says that people who are not yet fully vaccinated “should continue to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, wash their hands frequently, and limit gatherings with people outside of their households.”
The Denver metro area counties all have vaccination rates above 60%, as do several counties in the mountains and southwestern Colorado. The counties with the lowest vaccination rates – all below 40% of the eligible population – include Dolores, Baca, Fremont, Kiowa, Rio Blanco, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Washington, Cheyenne, Bent, and Crowley counties.
Broomfield, Mineral, Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, San Miguel and San Juan counties have all vaccinated more than 80% of their populations.