Jan 25, 2022 - COVID

Colorado says COVID-19 booster shots prevent hospital visits, citing new data

Data: Denver and Colorado Public Health; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The need for booster shots in the battle against COVID-19 is growing more urgent as Colorado looks to turn the corner from Omicron.

Why it matters: Boosters β€” third doses for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and second ones for Johnson & Johnson β€” provide the greatest level of protection against the coronavirus, public health experts say, and reduce the burden on overtaxed hospitals.

Driving the news: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said last Thursday that the extra shots greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization. In a presentation, the agency showed new data that boosted individuals are:

  • 7 times less likely than people who are "fully vaccinated"
  • 46 times less likely than people who are unvaccinated

What they're saying: "It's very striking," said Rachel Herlihy, the state's epidemiologist.

By the numbers: The booster-shot gap in Colorado remains significant with more than 1.5 million, or 46%, of residents ages 12 and older eligible but missing the extra dose, health officials tell Axios.

  • Denver exceeds the state's rate for full vaccinations, but lags when it comes to booster shots at only 39%, city data shows.

The big picture: Colorado's data echos new national figures released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show booster shots for people aged 50–64 significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization.

The intrigue: Colorado's focus on booster shots comes just as the definition of fully immunized is shifting, Axios' Tina Reed writes.

  • "What we're really working to do is pivot the language to make sure everyone is up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines as they personally could be, should be, based on when they got their last vaccine," CDC director Rochelle Walensky recently told reporters.
  • "If you're eligible for a booster and you haven't gotten it, you're not up-to-date and you need to get your booster," she added.

Good to know: Where to get vaccinated

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