Sep 14, 2021 - Politics

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pushes vaccine boosters ahead of FDA

Illustration of a syringe bent into the shape of a number three

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The state’s chief executive continues to urge Coloradans to get COVID-19 booster shots, even though federal regulators aren’t likely to begin offering them to the general public until Sept. 20.

In a briefing Monday, Gov. Jared Polis said people should "beat the rush" by getting the third dose this week and stressed that providers are offering boosters "to really anybody who asks."

  • "We made it so Coloradans can simply self-report their conditions," he said. "You can simply say, 'I have a weak immune system,' and that therefore you need the shot."

Why it matters: The Democratic governor continues to tell Coloradans to flout federal rules and has become increasingly critical of the Food and Drug Administration’s handling of the vaccine rollout.

  • As Axios Denver first reported, Polis pushed the booster two weeks before the FDA authorized third vaccines for immune-compromised people.
  • On Monday, Polis scolded the FDA for its pace in approving vaccines for kids ages 6 to 11 and for failing to recommend boosters for Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients.

By the numbers: More than 72,000 people in Colorado have received a third dose, state officials said Monday.

  • That’s about 2.4% of all eligible adults — a figure that’s expected to increase rapidly in the coming weeks.

State of play: Colorado is actively gearing up to deploy third doses, and officials say providers will be able to administer over 645,000 doses each week — more than enough to meet the estimated demand.

  • Still, Polis says Coloradans may struggle to secure boosters for now due to an initial spike in interest.
  • Officials are setting up small- and mid-scale drive-thru sites as well as working with medical providers and retail pharmacies to prepare.

The intrigue: As of July 21, state officials estimated that more than 350,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are slated to expire by the end of September, 9News reports.

The other side: A new review by an international group of 18 scientists disagrees that third shots are necessary for most people and argues the doses should first be offered in countries where few people are vaccinated.

  • The scientists say the protection from the first COVID-19 shots is still sufficient against serious illness in people under age 75 who aren’t immunocompromised.

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