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Polis: 11% of Colorado kids ages 12 to 15 have received COVID vaccine

The governor and state health officials discussed efforts to vaccinate Coloradans ages 12 and up.

DENVER — Governor Jared Polis provided an update Thursday on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic where he focused on the importance of getting kids ages 12 and up vaccinated. 

Colorado providers received the green light from the state last week to provide the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to anyone ages 12 and up after the FDA amended its emergency use authorization of the vaccine to include that age group. 

“We’ve already successfully vaccinated, with the first vaccine, 11% of all 12-15 in the state of Colorado,” Polis said. “That’s good for one week but it also means we have 89% that haven’t yet been vaccinated so we have to keep up the pace over the next few weeks.”

All of the state’s Community Vaccination Sites offer the Pfizer vaccine, and most do not require an appointment. People under the age of 18 will need parental consent before getting their shots. The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are only available to those over the age of 18.

Two-thirds of Coloradans over the age of 30 have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, Polis said. As for 16-29-year-olds, 44% have gotten at least one dose.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said there is a clear correlation between vaccination rates going up and case rates going down in counties across the state.

"The reality is that the communities that have the higher vaccination rates are going to be the communities that have the most protection, especially going into the fall respiratory virus season," Herlihy said. 

Polis also announced that the state is shifting its focus from not wasting a single dose to instead not wasting a single opportunity to vaccinate.  

“We want to make sure that even if there’s only one patient on hand to receive the vaccine that the vial is punctured and that vaccine is given,” Polis said. “Our partners will now be able to have the vaccine up to two weeks instead of the 72 hours to make sure they have it on hand. We want to miss no opportunities to vaccinate.”

The state’s current supply level of the vaccine is part of the reason for the shift, Polis said, as the demand was much higher than supply during the vaccine rollout compared to now. The governor said Colorado has plenty of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines available. 

Herlihy said parents of kids who are not yet vaccine eligible should continue to take precautions like wearing a mask. Kids under the age of 12 are the only Coloradans who still haven't been approved to get the shot.

During a news conference last week, Polis said people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear a mask in most places.

"If you're vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask," Polis said, while encouraging those who haven't received a COVID-19 vaccine yet to do so.

He said that while masks are about 50% effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19, the vaccine is 95% effective. Those who get vaccinated are much less likely to catch the virus and have a milder case when they do, he said.

"The mask doesn’t make your case of coronavirus any better, but the vaccine does," Polis said, as he also announced that Colorado has administered 5 million doses of vaccine. Unvaccinated people still need to wear masks, Polis said.

Businesses, schools, daycares and other indoor places can continue to require mask-wearing on their premises. It's up to them whether they will ask people to still wear masks, the governor said.

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