COVID in Colorado: Million-Dollar Giveaways, Kids Getting Vaccinated, Mask Rules And More

SECOND-CHANCE-COVID-VACCINATION-CLINIC-AURORASECOND-CHANCE-COVID-VACCINATION-CLINIC-AURORAHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis this week announced that five vaccinated Coloradans will each win $1 million as part of an incentive program state officials hope will boost the state's vaccination efforts.

Now that the CDC and the state have all but abandoned mask requirements, it’s up to Coloradans to decide where and when to mask, though some businesses still require it. 

Overall, new cases of the coronavirus have dipped in the last week, but unvaccinated people continue to get sick, particularly from contagious variants of the virus first identified in other countries. If that’s not enough of an incentive to get vaccinated, the state is throwing in the chance to win $1 million. Here’s a breakdown of where things are as of this week.

Kids and vaccines:

Kids 12 and older are now eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine. In Colorado, as of May 20, 11 percent of Coloradans aged 12-15 had gotten their first dose of vaccine. The state wants that number to go up, and quickly, so it’s changing its strategy to make it more convenient for people to get a vaccine.

As for the effects of the vaccine on kids, here are some answers to key questions: 

How effective is the vaccine for kids? 

Pfizer's study found the vaccine was even more effective --100 percent -- in children 12-15 years old than for older age groups.

How safe is the vaccine for this younger age group? 

The safety profile is similar to that of adults, so the vaccine is extremely safe according to researchers.

Kids aren’t as likely to get sick from COVID-19, so why is it necessary to get the vaccine? 

There have already been several hundred pediatric deaths and tens of thousands of hospitalizations for kids so, like adults, they need to be vaccinated. They also contribute to herd immunity, which would significantly reduce transmission of the virus.

What kinds of side effects do children experience?

Kids can expect to have the same side-effects as adults including a sore arm, fever and fatigue.

Are there children who should NOT receive the vaccine? 

Doctors recommend the vaccine for the vast majority of children, even those with severe food allergies. For kids with chronic medical conditions, there may be cases where they don’t respond as well to the vaccine. And there may be extremely rare cases where a child has a severe allergic reaction to their first dose which may mean forgoing the second doses. Here’s the CDC's general guidance.

Colorado hopes million-dollar giveaways will boost vaccinations:

Kids aren’t the only ones proving hard to reach with a vaccine. Colorado’s rural counties generally have the lowest vaccination rates across the state.

To try to boost those numbers, Gov. Jared Polis announced Tuesday that the state will give away $1 million each to five different vaccinated Coloradans. All the details about that sweepstakes are here, including whether you’re eligible if you’ve already gotten the shot.

Here's where things stand:

  • As of May 25, people in Colorado who have been fully immunized: 2,502,348
  • As of May 25, percent of all Coloradans who are fully immunized: 43 percent
  • As of May 20, the state calculated that 57 percent of eligible Coloradans had received at least one dose of vaccine.

Hospitalizations and Cases:  

More transmissible variants of the coronavirus now make up more than two-thirds of all of the cases in Colorado, according to state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy. 

She says the vaccines are effective against these variants, which is the good news. The bad news is she believes that many of the variants spread more easily from person to person than the original COVID-19 strain. The most common variant in Colorado is B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the U.K.

Case rates are highest in places with lower vaccination rates. That includes Mesa County, where cases spiked recently

As of May 25, here’s where things stand: 

  • Colorado has 509 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of May 25. That’s down from a spring high of 679 on May 8, and way down from the all-time high of 1,841 December 2, but many more than last summer.
  • The seven day positivity rate on May 24 was 3.07%. The rate has seen a steady decline since a recent high of 6.47% on April 30, and it’s below the 5.0% threshold state health officials regard as worrisome. It’s also within about a half-point of Colorado’s pandemic low for that metric of 2.55% back on Sept. 11.
  • Up to 10 people per day have died of COVID-19 recently, which is way down from the December peak but is higher than the number of deaths Colorado experienced last summer. Undoubtedly, the efforts to vaccinate the most vulnerable people first have significantly limited the number of deaths recently.

So how should we act now?  

The state’s not requiring vaccinated people to wear a mask anymore (not that it was ever really enforced). The CDC says you don’t need to cover your face or maintain physical distance in most situations anymore. But some individual Coloradans aren’t ready to take off the masks just yet, and businesses that want to keep a mandate have to bear the brunt of any customer outrage about it.

If you are vaccinated, there is still a very small chance you could get COVID-19, but there’s evidence vaccines will make the illness less serious. Here’s everything you need to know about getting the coronavirus after you’re vaccinated.

The latest on COVID in Colorado:

What do you want to know about COVID or the vaccine in Colorado? Send an email to health@cpr.org and we’ll try to answer it.

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