Gov. Polis provides update on COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines and boosters

DENVER – Today, Governor Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reminding Coloradans that the pandemic is not yet behind us as COVID-19 related hospitalizations continue to increase across the state with almost 90% of the state’s ICU beds currently occupied. Governor Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, and COVID 19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman. 

“We have the ability to end the pandemic and get back to the Colorado we love but we need more Coloradans to get the lifesaving, and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Hospital beds across the state are filling up with COVID patients, most of which are unvaccinated but it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Governor Polis. “We have all the tools we need to defeat this pandemic. The risk of hospitalization if you are vaccinated and contract COVID is very low but much higher, almost a 1 in 10 chance, if you are unvaccinated. Show that you love yourself and that you support your friends and family by getting vaccines. Get protected, get vaccinated, and get boosted,” Governor Polis added.

Colorado is facing a strain on our hospital capacity as most Coloradans are back to living their normal lives, leading to more accidents and hospitalizations, while the state is also seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, the majority of which are among the unvaccinated that lead to hospitalization. 

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, provided an overview of COVID-19 case rates in Colorado. “The increases that we are seeing in hospitalizations are across all age groups,” said Dr. Herlihy. “The rates are increasing a little more rapidly though in some of our older populations, specifically in our 70+ population. This is an important reminder of the importance of booster doses to protect individuals who are at a higher risk of severe disease, especially hospitalization or death.” 

To free up hospital capacity, Governor Polis reminded all Coloradans to get their flu and COVID-19 shot and encouraged eligible Coloradans to get their booster COVID shot. Research by Pfizer showed in a large study that booster shots are highly effective, especially against the highly contagious Delta variant. The effectiveness of the vaccine with a booster shoots up to over 95.6% effective, according to Pfizer’s study released today, Oct. 21. 

Scott Bookman, COVID 19 Incident Commander, also gave an update on the hospitalization capacity situation in the state. 

“As of today, we have 1,130 people hospitalized and the state only has 934 beds remaining. Surgeries are being canceled, brain surgeries, heart surgeries are being delayed because of a lack of availability to provide care to those patients due to the impact of COVID hospitalizations,” said Scott Bookman. “I join the Governor and Dr. Herlihy in urging all Coloradans who have not yet been vaccinated to take that step to get their first shot. And I also urge those that are eligible to get their booster to do so as soon as possible.”  

The Food and Drug Administration, as of yesterday, released new recommendations regarding booster shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The Johnson & Johnson booster was authorized by the FDA for anyone 18 and over. The Moderna booster, a half-dose of the original shot, was authorized by the FDA for people 65 and older and everyone who works around others at their job. Additionally, the FDA authorized a mix and match approach where eligible individuals can receive a booster dose after their primary series from any of the approved vaccines. 

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on all of these recommendations today and soon the CDC Director is expected to also sign off on the recommendations, which will lead to final approval for boosters of Moderna and J&J. To date, nearly 8% of Coloradans have received their booster shot and it is expected that number will quickly rise once ACIP signs off on the boosters of J&J and Moderna. Booster shots will not just add additional immunity but will also help protect young children who are not yet vaccinated and other vulnerable populations. 

Gov. Polis provides update on COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines and boosters