Colorado COVID booster rollout off to a slow start
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.
- Boosters are free even if you don't have insurance or legal residency status.
- Omicron vaccine doses are available across the state, including at primary care offices, local public health clinics, pharmacies, mobile vaccine buses and community vaccination sites.
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