COLORADO, USA — In the first few weeks of availability, only a fraction of eligible Coloradans have gotten the new, bivalent COVID booster vaccine.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said about 165,000 people have received a dose of the "omicron booster," representing about 4% of the eligible population.
“We are so excited that this booster is finally out, and the federal supply on this booster is increasing,” Scott Bookman, Colorado's COVID incident commander, said.
“And so what we see today is broad availability of this vaccine -- pharmacies, doctors’ offices, our community vaccination sites that we've set up to ease people getting the shot -- and we are seeing steady flow," he said.
Through Sept. 21, CDPHE said, the state ordered 129,700 Moderna omicron doses and 558,600 Pfizer omicron doses. Thousands of shots are being administered daily.
While the state is excited to offer the new vaccine, health leaders acknowledge the demand for the new booster does not match the initial vaccine demand in late 2020 and early 2021.
Supply is easier to stock, and the public attitudes about COVID have changed.
“Nothing is going to be like those early days, you know, the very beginning of the vaccine campaign, where we had 35,000 doses for 5 million people, right? I mean, we're not in that spot,” Bookman said.
“Many people have already received one or two additional doses," he said. "Many people have also had COVID recently. Also, there is just this broad availability. And so I don't think there is this urgency right now. I’m glad that we don't have any lines around the corner. There's broad access. There's broad availability.”
When asked when people should get their booster shot (as well as a flu shot heading into the winter season), Bookman said – as soon as possible.
“Go get the dose today. I don't think we should be trying to plan things out, you know, based on conjecture of flu seasons and COVID seasons. Let's go get this omicron dose so that we prevent it. If everybody stays up to date, we break those chains of transmission," he said.
9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Payal Kohli said she was “shocked” by the low percentage of eligible Coloradans who have gotten the vaccine so far.
“The attitude, especially on the heels of the president saying ‘the pandemic is over,’ which he walked back because he realized the message was ‘COVID is over,’ which it should not have been. COVID is not over, and we’re continuing to struggle with it,” she said.
“We really have to fight that apathy, the vaccine fatigue, now two years into the pandemic," she said.
So how do you pick which vaccine to get?
Kohli said there are some differences in dose size between Moderna and Pfizer, but nothing substantial in terms of safety or efficacy. She said either is fine, and it doesn't matter which brand you previously received.
“The idea of having this bivalent vaccine, with the original strain and the omicron strain, is not only to have depth, but to have breadth of coverage,” she said.
“I really want people to go home with the message of – this is a new and improved vaccine. I like to say this is the Tesla of [COVID] vaccines. Before we had Toyota, which worked well, but this is a substantial upgrade."
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: COVID-19 Coronavirus