Omicron immunity: about 90 percent of Coloradans are immune to variant — through infection or vaccine

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Nurse Diane Clark administers a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to Amaya Hill, 8, of Colorado Springs, at El Paso County Public Health’s Southeast Women, Children and Infants office on Saturday, November 6, 2021. This week federal regulators approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Some 90 percent of Coloradans are immune to the omicron variant and well over 90 percent are immune to severe disease caused by coronavirus, according to state health officials.

That immunity — a product of both vaccination and infections — will steadily fade in the coming months but is expected to remain high into early summer.

Officials aren’t able to project immunity levels beyond June 2022, since it’s not yet known how long immunity to omicron lasts. Uncertainty also looms with future variants. These projections, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy cautioned, would change if another variant came along that is less recognizable by our immune systems. 

“A new variant that resulted in more immune escape would change this picture dramatically,” said Dr. Herlihy in a state update.

Various other factors indicate the pandemic is loosening its grip on the state for now. For the first time since last fall, there are more hospital beds available than there are COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to state reports. And while one in every 69 Coloradans was infectious with COVID-19 as of Feb. 13, that rate is also expected to improve in the coming weeks.

These optimistic modeling numbers come as the state also announced they’re dropping crisis standards of care, and COVID-19 hospitalizations, percent positivity rates, and case numbers continue decreasing.

Though mask mandates in many counties are ending, free KN95 masks are still available at over 400 locations throughout the state. So far, the state reports more than four million masks have been given out.