Colorado Narrowly Meets Biden’s Fourth Of July COVID-19 Vaccine Goal

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Medical assistant Yasmin Tellez gives Maria Chacon the first of two Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at Globeville’s Clinica Tepeyac. Jan. 26, 2021.

With 70.04 percent of Colorado adults 18 and older inoculated with one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state has narrowly met the goal set by President Joe Biden in early May.

Governor Jared Polis said in a statement that 3,154,395 Coloradans having been vaccinated was "an exciting milestone" and "a testament to our resilience" in the fight against the virus.

"The vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect ourselves and enjoy the life we love in Colorado,” Polis said in the statement. “Our country has a simple tool to stop the loss in the form of a safe, highly effective, and free vaccine so get your vaccine to safeguard yourself and your family.”  

About 58 percent of the overall state population has received at least one dose, and 51 percent of Coloradans been fully immunized with both shots.

The country as a whole will not meet the president's 70 percent goal, as it will fall about three percentage points shy of it, according to latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 55 percent of the overall population has gotten one shot.

The news comes as Colorado is just about ready to wrap up its million-dollar sweepstakes incentive that was aimed at encouraging vaccinations. The state has awarded $1 million to four lucky people and the final winner will be announced on July 7.

The state may have reached it’s 70 percent goal, but whether the vaccine incentives worked remains an open question. Vaccination rates continue to lag among communities of color. As of July 1:

  • Self-identified Hispanics make up less than 10 percent of those vaccinated despite making up about 20 percent of the state's population.
  • Black Coloradans make up about 3 percent of those vaccinated and make up about 4 percent of the overall state population.
  • White Coloradans, who are about 70 percent of the state population, make up about 69 percent of those vaccinated.

And in Mesa County, which leads the state with the most cases from the highly contagious Delta variant, the vaccination rate remains below 50 percent for those who have been fully immunized or have received one dose. As of the start of July, 29 counties have below 50 percent of their populations vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

“It’s hard to answer that question definitively, I think,” Glen Mays, chair and a professor in the Department of Health Systems, Management & Policy in the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz told CPR News earlier this week. He said the drawings were novel and helped promote awareness and excitement about the vaccinations but they came after many early adopters already had gotten their shots. So it’s “really difficult to know exactly what, if any, boost it’s had.”

The drawings at the very least, arrested, then slowed, a significant slide in the public's interest in getting the vaccine. Vaccine enthusiasts swarmed providers to get their shots when eligibility was expanded. But during the week of May 25, when Polis announced the drawings, vaccinations fell by about 35 percent from the prior week. Two weeks later, the number of people getting vaccinations actually rose, though not at the level seen in April, when eligibility was expanded to all adults.

What To Know About COVID Vaccines In Colorado Right Now