Colorado health officials are asking vaccine providers to offer booster shots to anyone over the age of 18 — a much broader group than previously approved for the boosters — because of the high incidence of COVID-19 in the state.
With only 7% of the state’s intensive care beds available, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sent a letter to vaccine providers on Wednesday asking them to give a booster dose to anyone far enough away from their original vaccine regimen. to be eligible for the injection.
“With the high risk of exposure in Colorado, we hope everyone gets a booster six months after Moderna or Pfizer and two months after (Johnson & Johnson),” said Scott Bookman, the state health organization’s COVID-19 incident commander. in a letter to vaccine providers.
“Consultation by the state’s chief physician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that offering the vaccine to anyone in the state who is over the age of 18 and who must receive their booster is permitted, given the high degree of of disease transmission in Colorado,” the letter continues.
Colorado’s incidence per 100,000 people was the third highest in the US on Wednesday, according to The New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker. The only states with higher incidence rates were Alaska and North Dakota.
The wide expansion of booster eligibility is an effort to curb the rising number of cases in the state that are straining hospital capacity. While 79% of people in Colorado hospital beds are unvaccinated, boosters hope to slow a rise in hospitalizations that state officials predict won’t peak until the end of the year.
On October 21, the CDC authorized emergency use for booster shots made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Boosters made by Pfizer had previously earned the authorization.
These approvals were for only a limited group of people, especially those over 65, and people who are over the age of 18 and are either at high risk for a serious case of the virus because of underlying health conditions or whose job often exposes them to the virus.
But Bookman’s letter says the CDC’s approval will allow for much broader vaccine administration, which “essentially includes anyone in a high-risk state like ours.”
Of the 3,209 counties in the US that report data to the CDC, 2,222 of them, or 69%, are currently considered to be at high risk of community transmission of the virus. The CDC’s standard for high risk is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days. Lincoln County, on the eastern side of the state, is the only county in Colorado that is not considered a high risk of transmission, according to the CDC.
“No one should be rejected for receiving a booster dose,” Bookman wrote.
The letter also explains changes to the state’s public health order on vaccine access and reporting structures to require providers to administer booster doses of the vaccine to people regardless of where they received previous doses, and allow people to self-administrate. confirm their eligibility.
Routt County public health director Roberta Smith said the booster expansion was brought up during a meeting with state health officials last week with Eric France, the state’s chief medical officer, who flagged the change.
The state health organization issued a COVID-19 public health advisory on Friday that also said booster eligibility would be expanded.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email [email protected]