Oct 3, 2022 - News

Colorado COVID booster rollout off to a slow start

Illustration of a syringe at the center of an oval racetrack.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Demand for Omicron boosters in Colorado isn't taking off as health officials had initially hoped.

Why it matters: With the onset of fall, local health experts are predicting a surge of COVID cases and say the boosters — which target one of the newest, most contagious strains of the virus — can provide extra protection from serious illness.

By the numbers: Nearly 198,000 Coloradans have received a dose of the updated bivalent vaccines since they rolled out in early September, according to state data provided to Axios Denver.

  • That's 5.3% of residents ages 12 and older who finished their primary series and are eligible for a new shot.
  • Yes, but: The percentage of Coloradans who have been boosted with the latest vaccine is twice the national average of 2.7%, health officials say.

Zoom in: The highest vaccine uptake is among Coloradans ages 65 and older, with 11.6% of the eligible population having already received an Omicron dose.

  • In Denver, just over 28,000 eligible residents, 4.5%, have gotten the bivalent booster, according to the city's health department.

What's happening: Local health officials tell Axios Denver there is likely a variety of factors behind the slower vaccine uptake, including people waiting until it gets colder outside, when the perceived risk is greater, and because of infection this summer.

  • Vaccine "fatigue" — when people avoid taking action due to assumed burden or burnout — is also at play, Denver health department spokesperson Courtney Ronner says.
  • Moreover, the expedited rollout of shots — and unknowns associated with their effectiveness — have left many people leery, Axios' Tina Reed and Adriel Bettelheim write.

What to watch: Pfizer announced last week they are seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for its Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster for children ages 5-11.

  • The shot is currently available for those 12 and older. Moderna's version is for those 18 and up.

Be smart: You're eligible for the new booster if you're 12 or older, have finished your primary vaccine series, and haven't received a dose or booster in the past two months.


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