DENVER – Seventy-five percent of adults in Colorado have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, marking another pivotal moment in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Governor Jared Polis announced Tuesday.
Despite the milestone, Gov. Polis continued to urge hesitant Coloradans who haven’t been inoculated to do so, as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to drive up cases and hospitalizations statewide.
“This is a pivotal moment for our community,” Polis said in a prepared statement. “But we need more Coloradans to safeguard their health and the health of their loved ones against this deadly virus. Get vaccinated today to protect our progress, safeguard in-person learning for our students, and to help our economy build back better.”
As of Tuesday, 67.4% of all Coloradans were fully vaccinated, according to the latest statewide vaccine data, and more than 55% of kids between 12-17 years of age have received at least one dose. The state has averaged around 4,300 vaccinations per day for those aged 12 and up, according to the governor’s office. Kids 12 and under are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“While we are definitely moving in the right direction when it comes to vaccines, we aren’t going to let up until every Coloradan who may want a vaccine gets one. Now is the time,” said CDPHE executive director Jill Hunsaker Ryan in a prepared statement.
Tuesday’s announcement came eight days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to Pfizer’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for vaccine mandates for workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities in Colorado, as well as for staff at Aurora Public Schools.
Despite having a high vaccination rate, Colorado continues to see an increase in both hospitalizations and cases of COVID-19.
As of Monday afternoon, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reported 874 hospitalizations for confirmed or suspected cases of the new virus – levels not seen since Jan. 17, when the fourth wave of the coronavirus was winding down. The rise in hospitalizations is concerning enough that Colorado hospitals on Friday reactivated Tier 1 of the Combined Hospital Transfer Center to move patients around the state as some near their capacity for available beds.
Cases of the novel virus are also up to levels not seen since the start of winter surge. On Monday, Colorado reported over 3,600 new cases in a single day. The last time Colorado saw new daily cases that high was in early November.
The rise in cases and hospitalizations can be attributed to the delta variant, which currently makes up 96.36% of all cases in Colorado, according to the CDPHE. A county-level breakdown across the nation shows 92.19% of the state has transmission levels high enough to warrant indoor masking, though Polis has left that decision up to local public health agencies.
In prepared remarks, Dr. Eric France, the chief medical officer of the CDPHE, also encouraged Coloradans to get vaccinated to help stop the spread of the disease, but added measures taken at the beginning of the pandemic should still be practiced by the general public to help reduce transmission, especially since data published last week by the CDC found efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at preventing transmission of COVID-19 dropped from 91% to 66% since delta became the dominant variant.
“Vaccines should be used alongside other public health guidance like washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask when you’re in public indoors and keeping your distance from others when you’re out and about,” he said.