Three shots needed to be fully vaccinated in light of omicron variant, Gov. Polis says

By: - December 21, 2021 3:56 pm

Christy Ruffell, manager of clinic nursing standards at UCHealth Medical Center, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to CNA Luis Perez at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital on Dec. 14, 2020, in Fort Collins. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post, pool)

Gov. Jared Polis reiterated his thinking on Tuesday that three COVID-19 vaccine doses are necessary to protect against infection, especially with the ongoing spread of the more transmissible omicron variant.

“We need to stop thinking of it as an optional dose,” he said during a press briefing on Dec. 21. “While the CDC has not yet changed the definition of fully vaccinated to include the third dose, I believe based on the data that they will.”

Approximately 41% of people 18 years and older in Colorado have gotten a booster shot as of Dec. 19, according to state data. Approximately 69% of the eligible population in Colorado has received either one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.


“Don’t put off getting your third dose,” Polis said. “It will provide you with significant protection against omicron, which we expect to increase in our state in the coming weeks.”

Colorado has 11 community vaccination sites.

The omicron variant, first detected in South Africa less than a month ago, is accounting for the majority of new cases in the country over the past week, especially in hotspots like New York City. Federal health officials said on Monday that omicron accounts for 73% of new cases over the past week.

In Colorado, the delta variant is still dominant, but Polis said that is likely to change in the coming days and weeks. Because of unknowns about omicron, such as its severity, modeling the variant’s impact is still a work in progress.

“We still are learning about omicron and preparing for its spread. We expect to see omicron cause additional cases and hospitalizations in Colorado including a potential reversal in our current downward trajectory,” a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesperson wrote in an email.

So far, there are a handful of confirmed omicron cases in Colorado. Denver public health officials confirmed on Monday that two people in the city had been infected through community transmission.

Polis commended the Biden administration’s plan to send 500 million rapid at-home tests to households beginning in January. Colorado already has a home testing program that has sent out 1.3 million free tests, and Polis said he will decide in the new year whether the state program will fold into the national one.

“I was honored to see that President Biden is really taking what Colorado has done nationally, with regard to making testing available for free in their home,” he said.

He warned, however, that symptomatic people should go to a community testing site rather than wait for an at-home test delivery.


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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.