Colorado Approves Vaccine Booster For All Adults

Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order declaring the entire state to be at high risk from exposure and urged boosters for any adult who had enough time pass since their initial doses.

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Colorado makes all adults eligible for vaccine boosters as cases rise.

A patient waited to be called for a booster shot at a grocery store pharmacy in Denver this month.Credit…David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Nov. 11, 2021Updated 7:41 p.m. ET

Citing the pervasive spread of the coronavirus across Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis said on Thursday that all adults would be eligible for a booster shot because of their high risk of exposure, assuming enough time had passed since their initial doses.

Mr. Polis, a Democrat, signed an executive order declaring the entire state at high risk from exposure and urged boosters for any adult at least six months past their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two months past the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Federal regulators have said that adults who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are eligible for a booster if they are 65 or older, or if they are at increased risk because of medical conditions or where they work or live. Individuals who got the Johnson & Johnson shot, which is only available to adults, are eligible. People can select any of the three vaccine brands for their booster.

On Tuesday, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration to expand eligibility for their boosters to all adults.

If the regulators sign off on that request, it would make official what health authorities say they already see happening frequently. Many people appear to be getting boosters whether or not they are technically eligible, so holding onto complex criteria may be futile, some health officials have said.

A growing body of early global research has shown that the vaccines available in the United States have remained highly protective against the disease’s worst outcomes over time, even during the summer surge of the highly transmissible Delta variant, with some exceptions among older people and those with weakened immune systems.

A number of published studies show that their protection against infection, with or without symptoms, has fallen. Public health experts say it does not mean the vaccines are not working. But the significance of waning effectiveness — and whether it suggests all adults should be eligible for a booster — is still up for debate.

The State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.

A growing number of employers, universities and businesses are now issuing some form of a vaccine requirement. Here’s a closer look.

Private Sector: The Biden administration set Jan. 4 as the deadline for large companies to mandate vaccinations or start weekly testing of their workers, but a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the rule.Federal Government: A mandate for the vast majority of federal workers applies to employees of the executive branch, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the military.City Workforces: Some major cities — New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago — are requiring municipal workers to get vaccinated.Schools: California issued a mandate for all educators and plans to add the vaccine as a requirement to attend school. New York City has a mandate for teachers and staff in public schools.Colleges: More than 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated.Hospitals: Many medical centers are requiring employees to get vaccinated. Mandates for health care workers in California and New York State compelled thousands of holdouts to receive the shots.

Mr. Polis’s order justified broadening access to boosters by saying that since the entire state of Colorado has seen significant spread of the virus, it qualified as the kind of high-risk environment for which federal regulators cleared boosters.

“We want to ensure that Coloradans have every tool they need to protect themselves from this deadly virus and to help reduce the stress on our hospitals and health care workers,” the governor said in a statement. “Every Coloradan is now eligible to get the booster so they can protect themselves and their families.”

2,000

4,000 cases

Apr. 2020

May

Jun.

Jul.

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Jan. 2021

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.

May

Jun.

Jul.

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

7-day average

3,659
Source: State and local health agencies. Daily cases are the number of new cases reported each day. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data.

The order comes as Colorado faces its highest surge of virus cases in a year. As of Wednesday, the daily average of new cases was up 42 percent and average new deaths were up 52 percent over the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. The seven-day average of new cases was 3,737, and the average number of daily deaths was 35.

“We’re experiencing a peak right now that many other areas of the country experienced a month or two ago,” Mr. Polis said at a news conference on Monday.

His executive order, signed Wednesday, said that as of that day, only 623 hospital beds remained unoccupied across the state, with 95 percent of the state’s intensive care beds full.

The governor had signed an executive order this month that allows hospitals to transfer patients out if they are nearing capacity.

Asked at a news conference on Wednesday about Colorado’s approach, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasized that the priority was to get people vaccinated in the first place. “That, I think, is the most important,” she said, “in terms of preventing hospitalizations and death and infection in and of itself.”

The F.D.A. “is currently looking at the data for expanding boosters to all populations,” she added.

In mid-August, President Biden announced plans to make boosters available to all adults, but the beginning of the campaign was delayed after regulators insisted they needed more time to review data.

Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Josh Holder contributed reporting.

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