Mar 30, 2021 - News
Colorado tries to combat COVID vaccine hesitancy
Data: Kupersmit Research; MOE 3.5%. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Colorado announced it will make COVID-19 vaccines available to everyone over 16 starting Friday.

The problem is that not everyone wants one.

The state of play: The vaccine-hesitant population in Colorado shrank since September, but remains persistent, according to a recent poll commissioned by the state and obtained by Axios.

  • One in five Coloradans say they "definitely" wouldn't get the vaccine, or would do so only if required.
  • In addition, children who are not yet eligible comprise roughly 20% of the state, officials said.

Why it matters: The combination means that Colorado is far from the 70-80% benchmark needed for herd immunity.

Data: Kupersmit Research; MOE 3.5%. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios
Data: Kupersmit Research; MOE 3.5%. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

The most hesitant populations are the toughest ones to reach.

  • Conservatives and those who live in rural areas are particularly hesitant, according to the new Kupersmidt Research poll, which echoes other recent polling.
  • Black and Latino populations are likewise more skeptical and getting inoculated at lower rates.

What's new: The situation is pushing Gov. Jared Polis' administration to amplify its efforts to convince persuadable populations.

  • The strategy is focused on persuading the "wait and see" category to get vaccinated with messages from community leaders and other trusted authorities about safety and efficacy.

What they're saying: "We know there are some people who will not get vaccinated, and what we want to do is make that group as small as we can," Lisa Miller, an epidemiologist in the Colorado School of Public Health, told Axios.

  • In a presentation to lawmakers Monday, state public health leaders outlined a new advocacy campaign that includes a second round of paid advertising on TV, radio and digital platforms.

Other components include:

  • Outreach through text messaging in seven languages.
  • An effort to monitor misinformation and disinformation.
  • A social media campaign that recruited 100+ influencers.

Officials didn't respond to a question from Axios about how much it would cost.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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