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Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Colorado public health officials are raising alarms about a new vaccine hesitant population — the half-vaxxers.

By the numbers: 129,000 people who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are overdue for their second shot, state officials tell Axios.

  • It's about 4% of the 2.9 million who received one dose, below estimated national averages for missed second doses.

Why it matters: The rapid spread of the B.1.617 (Delta) variant first discovered in India is making the second dose "more important now than ever before," state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said Monday.

  • Colorado has the second-highest proportion of the variant in the nation and the fifth-highest positivity rate for COVID-19 cases generally.
Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Threat level: It is 50% more transmissible than the B.1.1.7 variant detected in the U.K.

  • The risk of hospitalization is double.
  • And the vaccine is less effective, 88% compared to 93% for the Pfizer version, state officials said.

Of note: That's still highly effective.

What's happening: Public health officials are sending reminder texts and emails to people ages 18 to 29 who missed their second shot.

Zoom in: In Denver, 5% are past due for a second shot, but in contrast with the state, local public officials downplayed the issue, saying the priority is getting people to get at least one dose.

Between the lines: A Magellan Strategies poll released this week shows that 11% of Colorado adults don't think they need the vaccine because they are not high-risk and don't think it's beneficial.

Be smart: You can get the second dose as late as 42 days — or six weeks — after the first one and it's still effective.

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Go deeper

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Sep 17, 2021 - Health

Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A key FDA advisory committee is meeting today to discuss Pfizer's proposal for a COVID vaccine booster — but it will set the stage for the entire booster debate.

The big question: Not only whether experts believe there’s enough evidence to support boosters, but also whether they believe additional shots should be made available for everyone or limited to older Americans and the immunocompromised.

White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss COVID vaccine

Rapper Nicki Minaj is seen leaving the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12, 2020, in New York City. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Nicki Minaj questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine this week on Twitter, prompting an offer from the White House for a call with a doctor to discuss the safety of the vaccine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Thursday.

Driving the news: Minaj on Monday wrote on Twitter that she would not attend the Met Gala because she had not received the COVID vaccine, which was a requirement to attend the event.