Coloradans who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine could hear from the state as health officials work to inoculate 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4.
As part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s outbound call campaign, callers with COVAXCO, the call center that has been answering inbound calls about COVID-19 vaccination in Colorado, will reach out to unvaccinated residents 18 or older to provide information about the vaccine, help schedule appointments and answer questions about the vaccine, state health officials announced late last week. Information will be available in multiple languages.
The campaign will help Coloradans learn more about the inoculations to make “informed decisions about their health,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan said in a news release Friday.
“It’s normal to have questions about COVID-19 vaccines,” she said. “These outgoing calls will provide Coloradans with accurate information and help them find a free vaccination appointment in their neighborhood if they choose to be protected from COVID-19.”
Health officials announced the campaign about a week after 12 Colorado counties hit their goal to vaccinate 70% of their adult populations with at least one dose. They are: San Juan (89.9%), San Miguel (84.8%), Summit (82%), Pitkin (81.5%), Broomfield (78.7%), Eagle (78.6%), Mineral (78.3%), Boulder (75.2%), Routt (74.1%), Jefferson (74.1%), Denver (71.6%) and Gunnison (71.6%), according to state health department data Monday afternoon.
Vaccination rates in El Paso County continue to lag but surpassed the 50% threshold — including vaccines given at public and military-run clinics — on Saturday. County data as of late Saturday show 58.5% of residents 12 or older have received at least one dose, and 51.2% are fully vaccinated.
Colorado is also battling the presence of the highly transmissible Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.1, making vaccination more important, state health officials said Monday. Stata data show El Paso County has Colorado’s second largest concentration of the new strain, identified in India in December, with 63 cases. Mesa County is home to the largest concentration, with 248 cases.
The Delta variant accounts for 40% of new COVID-19 cases and those infected are about twice as likely to be hospitalized, state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said during a press briefing Monday afternoon.
“If you are unvaccinated and exposed to COVID now, your chances of becoming infected are much greater than they were earlier in the pandemic,” Herlihy said.
Vaccine effectiveness against the variant is also slightly lower, she said. The Pfizer vaccine is about 88% effective against the Delta variant compared to its 93% effectiveness against the Alpha variant, also known as B.1.1.7, from the United Kingdom. It was unclear how the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines compared.
COVID-19 vaccines “continue to be some of the most effective vaccines that we’ve had in history, but we are seeing a little bit of a decrease there,” Herlihy said.
In addition to its outbound phone campaign, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will send text and email notifications to people between 18 and 29 who may be overdue for their second COVID-19 vaccine, the release said. The state previously sent similar messages to people over age 30.
Text messages will be sent Tuesday and Friday, and emails Thursday, to notify people whose COVID-19 immunization records show they may be more than 42 days past their first dose. The messages will include information on how people can find a vaccine provider to schedule their second vaccination, according to the release. The messages will be sent in English and Spanish, officials said.
Those who have additional questions after receiving these messages can contact the COVID-19 vaccine hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-877-268-2926.
This content was originally published here.