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State health officials give update on cases, vaccine for young children

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment held a briefing Thursday morning on COVID-19 in the state.

DENVER — State health officials gave an update on COVID-19 in Colorado on Thursday morning, as case counts from the current wave decline statewide and the vaccine became available to children 6 months old to 5 years old.

Speaking at the 10:40 a.m. briefing by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) were:

  • Scott Bookman, COVID-19 incident commander
  • Alicia Cronquist, COVID-19 surveillance program manager
  • Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer
  • Health Roth, immunization branch chief

Case counts were declining in the current omicron wave, with an average of 1,800 cases reported per day. The peak in cases came on June 9.

Hospitalizations were also declining, from 323 people in a hospital last week for COVID-19 down to 304 this week, Cronquist said.

The omicron subvariants dominating cases in Colorado are highly transmissible, and CDPHE said people should protect themselves based on their own level of risk, especially at community events.

"There are a lot of opportunities for people to gather, and there will be one soon with that Stanley Cup coming to Colorado," France said.

As of the week of June 5, about 52% of cases statewide were of the BA.2 variant, which is often informally referred to as “stealth" omicron because it has genetic mutations that could make it harder to detect through testing, the American Medical Association says.

CDPHE started offering the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to young children Wednesday. Starting Thursday, the state will send texts and email notifications to parents and guardians with children in this age group, to let them know the vaccine is available.

RELATED: What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for young children

Omicron results in more hospitalizations among young children than previous variants, so getting children vaccinated is important, health officials said.

"As a pediatrician, I'm thrilled that we have this vaccine opportunity," France said. "The vaccine is immunogenic, it's safe, it's effective, and I encourage all families with children 4 and under to get their child vaccinated.

A total of 82.78% of Colorado's eligible population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 74.74% are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data.

RELATED: Kids under 5 can now get a COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado

RELATED: Latest COVID-19 numbers: Cases showing some early signs of slowing

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