DENVER — Colorado health officials on Tuesday said the state's least-infectious large counties for COVID-19 also have the highest vaccination rates, according to new data.
Denver, Jefferson, Larimer and Boulder counties each have more than 50% of residents vaccinated, and all four counties have the lowest seven-day case rates per 100,000 among the state's largest counties. Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, says data for the state's 10 largest counties show a drop in 51 cases per 100,000 residents for every 10% increase in vaccinations.
On the other end of the spectrum, Pueblo and El Paso counties have the highest case rates among the 10 biggest counties and also have the lowest vaccination rates, below 45%.
Herlihy said the numbers are the "first promising indication we're seeing community level protection" as a result of the vaccine — and less protection where the vaccine isn't as widely distributed.
But the positive vaccine news Tuesday came with "bleak numbers" of high COVID-19 case rates statewide, Gov. Jared Polis said.
The state reported 2,015 new cases and a positivity rate of 9.64%. The state's goal has been to remain below 5% positivity.
Herlihy and Polis also shared numbers that show a rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission among high school and middle school students, though there is no statewide plan to alter school plans for the remainder of the semester.
Polis urged anyone 16 and older to get the vaccine and said many vaccination sites — including all six mass vaccination sites in the state — are taking walk-ins and that appointments are easy to make now.
Polis said the challenge over the next month will be getting more Coloradans vaccinated, especially those who might be putting off the vaccine out of "hesitancy or laziness," Polis said. Polis said officials hope the return of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will lead to more willingness to receive the vaccine, and he urged employees to make sure their employers give them four hours paid time off to receive the vaccine, per state Department of Labor standards.