Colorado will begin accepting walk-in patients at three of the state’s largest mass-vaccination sites Wednesday as officials tout the overwhelming effectiveness of COVID-19 inoculations and urge younger people to get their shots as soon as possible amid rising hospitalizations.
The move, announced by Gov. Jared Polis, comes as Colorado is experiencing its fourth wave of COVID-19, with more-contagious variants spreading throughout the state.
At the same time, as more people are inoculated against the coronavirus, state health officials say their data shows the vaccines are more than 93% effective in preventing infection, and that people who do contract the virus after being vaccinated appear far less likely to see serious complications.
The number of people hospitalized with confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases statewide rose by 46 on Tuesday to 614, the highest figure since late January. While the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is going down, 7.35% of tests came back positive over the last three days — the highest the positivity rate has been since early January.
“This is very much a race against the clock,” Polis said at a news briefing, noting the state is seeing a rise in younger Coloradans, people in their 20s and 30s, being hospitalized with the virus.
To help make it easier to get vaccinated, the drive-up clinics at Ball Arena in Denver, the Ranch Events Complex in Loveland and the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo no longer will require appointments, Polis announced. Other state vaccination sites, as well as private health care providers and pharmacies, still will require appointments.
“We all want to experience the end of this pandemic and the sooner we can achieve the vaccination levels so that the virus has no place to go, no place to spread, the sooner we can return to absolute normal,” Polis said.
The schedules for the three walk-up/drive-up sites:
Overall, 1.5 million Coloradans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Since late January, 819 — or 0.8% — of the 106,065 people confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 were fully inoculated against the virus, said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist.
These “breakthrough cases” as they’re called represent a small percentage of infections in the state, with only 1 in 7,000 fully vaccinated people contracting the coronavirus, according to an analysis by the state health department that looked at data during the week of April 4 to 10. By comparison, 1 in 387 unvaccinated people became infected during that same time period,
That means people who are fully immunized are 94.6% less likely to have confirmed COVID-19, according to the analysis.
A second analysis by the state Department of Public Health and Environment found that COVID-19 vaccines offer about 93% protection against the virus, which is in line with national studies looking at the efficacy of the shots, Herlihy said.
State analysis of breakthrough cases also found those people were far less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 complications, with just a handful being admitted between late January and mid-April.
It’s “a reminder about the highly effective nature of this vaccine and the importance for all Coloradans to receive this vaccine,” Herlihy said. “Again, remember that vaccination is going to be our ticket out of this pandemic.”
Denver Post reporter Meg Wingerter contributed to this report.
Updated 12:30 p.m. April 21, 2021 Due to incorrect information from a source, this story originally misreported the operating hours of the mass vaccination site at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo. That site is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
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