Colorado gets ready to distribute COVID vaccine to kids 12 and older

    BRIEF

    Colorado state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy speaks during a news briefing on Colorado's response to COVID-19 on May 11, 2021. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

    Colorado is poised to make significant progress in its effort to vaccinate as many residents as possible now that the Pfizer vaccine will almost certainly be authorized for use in recipients as young as 12, Gov. Jared Polis said during a news briefing on Tuesday.

    “All Coloradans 12 and up are that much closer to being able to be protected and end the pandemic,” Polis said.

    The state early in its vaccination efforts concentrated on delivering vaccines to people who are 70 and older, because that population had accounted for 78% of COVID deaths and more than a third of hospitalizations in the state. But today 76% of that age group in Colorado is fully vaccinated, and young people represent a growing proportion of new cases.

    “Youth are currently accounting for more new cases in the state as many older Coloradans have already taken the opportunity to receive the vaccine,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said during the news briefing. “In fact our highest case rates currently are among middle school and high school students in the state.”

    Trials of the Pfizer vaccine indicated a 100% efficacy rate for 12- to 15-year-olds.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday signed off on expanding the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children age 12 to 15. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday is expected to make a recommendation on such use, and if a positive recommendation is endorsed by CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the vaccine could be administered to 12-year-olds in Colorado by the weekend.

    The Pfizer vaccine had previously been authorized for use in people who are 16 and older. Two other vaccines, made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are authorized for use in adults.

    Coloradans may visit one of the state’s six community vaccination sites without an appointment. They also may receive a vaccine, often without an appointment, at pharmacies and at other vaccination sites throughout the state. The six community vaccination sites are:

    • Ball Arena in Denver
    • The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland
    • Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo
    • Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City
    • Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs
    • Grand Junction Convention Center in Grand Junction

    The state’s COVID website provides a list of vaccine providers in each Colorado county. The state also conducts vaccination outreach for hard-to-reach sites and underserved populations. Learn more about mobile vaccination clinics at mobilevax.us/clinics.

    Locations of and information about Colorado’s six COVID-19 community vaccination sites. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

    As of May 9, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases was 1,182. That’s down from 1,534 the previous week. As of Tuesday, 631 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado. The coronavirus has killed 6,537 people in the state.

    The state is racing against the spread of various concerning coronavirus variants in Colorado. The latest, known as B.1.617.2 and linked to a surge of cases in India, was first detected in Colorado last week in Mesa County.

    “Like all of the other variants we are investigating right now, we are certainly concerned about these variants,” Herlihy said. “We know that a number of them can be more transmissible, so infections can spread more readily.” She added that state public health officials still have a lot more to learn about the India variant.

    For more information about how to sign up for vaccination, visit cocovidvaccine.org or call 1-877-CO VAX CO (1-877-268-2926).