Updated COVID-19 boosters are now available in Colorado

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Medical assistant Yasmin Tellez preps a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at Globeville’s Clinica Tepeyac. Jan. 26, 2021.

Updated COVID-19 boosters are being rolled out at pharmacies and clinics in Colorado. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials expect the updated boosters to become more widely available in the state this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week recommended that people who are eligible for these boosters get their shots. The news comes just ahead of the fall, when cases could surge.

Deaths, hospitalizations and positive cases have spiked every fall since the pandemic began in 2020, according to state health department data. And the omicron variant fueled a massive spike in cases earlier this year.

Now, with omicron’s subvariants — BA.4 and BA.5 — expected to drive infections in the fall and winter, state officials say they hope Coloradans will take advantage of the added protection these boosters offer.

“It's particularly important for people that have only had two or three doses of the vaccine,” said Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday, adding that “if you’re medically vulnerable, it’s particularly important. He spoke as he got his shot of the vaccine in front of a state vaccine bus at Ball Arena in downtown Denver.

“This is just another very easy step that you can take to protect yourself,” he said. Polis noted that the pandemic has claimed about 13,600 Colorado lives and that COVID-19 “has a much lower hospitalization rate and an extremely low death rate, if you are fully vaccinated.”

John Daley/CPR News
Gov. Jared Polis (seated) receives an updated COVID-19 booster at Ball Arena in Denver on September 7, 2022. The state plans to open 10 community vaccination sites that will offer the updated booster over the next week.

About 150 people had signed up Wednesday to get their vaccine shots at the Ball Arena site. “There’s still a lot of demand,” said the governor.

Josh Phillips, a resident of Highlands Ranch, came to the site for his shot, his fifth, since he’d already had the original series, plus two previous boosters.

“It is just, you know, trying to protect myself and my family as much as possible,” he said, noting he was flying to Pennsylvania soon. “I'm actually traveling next week. So I think it's important, especially in a congested place, like the airport, to be as protected as possible. And the rest of my family will be doing this as well, as soon as we can.”

“I just thought it would be a good idea, you know, considering that we're about to enter flu season and all,” said Fred Bernal, a Denver resident who also got his omicron booster shot. He said he did catch the coronavirus last November, right before he got a booster. “It probably would've been a lot more serious had I not received my vaccine,” he said.

Bernal brought his in-laws to get their shots. That included his mother-in-law, Anita Easton, who was in town from Oregon and needed no encouragement to get her booster.

“I'm absolutely convinced, but I'm a biologist, so I know why it's good for you and why you should do it,” she said.

What’s the difference between the original booster and the updated booster?

Diana Herrero, deputy director of the Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response for CDPHE, said the updated COVID boosters contain a spike protein that offers specific protection to the omicron strain that caused a huge wave in cases at the beginning of 2022. 

They also offer protection against the omicron subvariants that are currently the dominant strains in Colorado and the U.S.

The booster shots millions of Coloradans received since last fall were not specifically formulated to protect against omicron, she added.

“Much like viruses evolve over time, our vaccines really need to do the same thing to keep up with the strains that are circulating,” Herrero said. “We think these will be really effective at preventing the worst outcomes of severe disease, hospitalization and death.”

Who is eligible for the updated booster?

In order to get an updated booster you must: 

  • Be at least 12 years old to get the updated Pfizer-BioNTech booster or 18 years or older for the updated Moderna booster
  • Have completed the primary series of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Novavax
  • And be at least two months out from the last dose you received.

What about kids younger than 12?

The CDC said in a press release last week that it “expects to recommend updated COVID-19 boosters for other pediatric groups” in the coming weeks. 

We will update this article as more updates become available. 

Where can I get an appointment to get the updated booster?

CDPHE’s website lists several links to view availability of the updated booster at providers around the state. You can find those links by clicking here.

Those offering the shots include many primary care offices, community health centers, pharmacies, and community vaccination sites.