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Polis says state is ready for booster campaign rollout

In Monday's news conference, Gov. Polis announced 2.4% of Coloradans had received a COVID-19 booster shot.

DENVER — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said Monday that 2.4% of Coloradans have received a COVID-19 booster shot.

Polis was joined at the news conference by Colorado's COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman as well as Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Vaccination, Colorado National Guard Lt. Col. Jamie Pieper.

Polis said the state is prepared to roll out a booster shot campaign next week if it gets approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before then. Pfizer is reportedly expected to get approval by the initial Sept. 20 deadline announced by President Joe Biden, but Moderna will likely be delayed due to lack of data.

As for what people who received the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) should do, Polis said that is for the FDA to decide. 

On Monday, Polis shared his frustrations with the lack of guidance the agency has given to J&J vaccine recipients.

"They need to get off their rear ends and provide that guidance," Polis said. "There are many people who received it who, on their own, are beginning the course of two vaccines with the Pfizer and Moderna, but again there's an inhibition to that because of the lack of guidance. So they need to do that." 

>Watch Monday's full press conference below.

Bookman said the state has spent months preparing for the booster campaign to begin. 

"We really want to make sure all Coloradoans will be able to get this booster when it is their time to get it," Bookman said. 

Lt. Col. Jamie Pieper, Colorado National Guard and Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Vaccination said the CDC estimated 75% of people who got their second shot will get their booster. Colorado leaders are planning for more than that to get their third shot. 

Pieper said the state will have more than enough shots; the anticipated booster demand is much less than what the state can provide.

Polis added that the first couple of weeks may be a little more of a challenge to find a booster shot with only the Pfizer booster potentially being approved, but once the Moderna booster is approved, finding a booster shot should be easy. 

"We want to show we are generally ready," Polis said. "I wouldn’t be surprised is there would be a week or two where it will be a little harder [to find a shot]."

But on Monday, as Polis stressed that the state was ready for a campaign. 

A group of international scientists stated no COVID-19 booster shots were needed just yet. 

The opinion piece was published in the Lancet medical journal. It talked about the intense scientific debate about who needs doses and when. Among the authors were Marion Gruber and Phil Krause, two FDA regulators who recently announced they would be stepping down this fall. 

Polis did not hold back when he was asked about his views on the subject.

"First of all, we can all celebrate the news that Marion Gruber and Phil Krause have left the FDA in disgrace over unnecessary delays for the booster," he said. "They have blood on their hands and there are thousands of Americans that are dead today because of their delays of the booster shot."

The Governor stressed in order to save lives, the FDA needed to approve the booster shots as soon as possible. 

The FDA plans to meet on Friday to discuss Pfizer's application for the COVID-19 booster. 

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Polis said Friday that 75% of all those 12 and older in Colorado have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Bookman said Friday that Colorado has less than 200 available ICU beds. Bookman added that hospitalizations in Colorado have eclipsed the number from the first wave in the spring of 2020.

As of Friday, there were 902 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state – which is the second-highest peak so far of COVID-19 patients of any wave of the pandemic.

"The burden of the unvaccinated on our hospitals is profound and impacts all Coloradans because those who are vaccinated will struggle to get the same level of care in the hospital that they would get if there were fewer COVID hospitalizations," Bookman said.

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