After 62 weeks of the pandemic, this week brings only good news for Coloradans.
By Drew Kartos | firstname.lastname@example.org | May 17, 2021, 9:30 p.m. MST
After 62 weeks of the pandemic, we’re closer than ever to a post-pandemic life with much less worry about getting COVID-19 or passing it to others. For those who are already vaccinated, life probably feels pretty normal again. For those still planning on getting vaccinated, there are more freedoms to look forward to. Thanks to our patience, perseverance, and resilience, Colorado is primed for a summer of doing the things we love.
Pfizer vaccine is available for 12 and up
Children ages 12 and up are now eligible for the two-dose Pfizer vaccine — just as the vaccine becomes more available and this population sees higher rates of cases. This adds about 300,000 Coloradans who can now get vaccinated. Here’s everything you need to know:
- On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in 12–15-year-olds.
- On May 12, CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously agreed to recommend the vaccine to this age group.
- A clinical trial of 2,260 children ages 12–15 showed the vaccine is safe and 100% effective at preventing serious COVID-19 disease.
- No serious adverse events found in the trial.
- Short-term side effects were similar to those seen in young adults (e.g., temporary sore arm, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches).
- The Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines continue to be available only to adults 18 years of age and older for now.
If you have a child 12 years of age and older, you can sign up for an appointment at a provider near you.
If you’re wondering when younger children can get vaccinated, there’s hope on the horizon. Pfizer and Moderna are currently recruiting younger children for pediatric vaccine trials, with requests for Emergency Use Authorizations expected later this year.
Vaccinated? What the new mask guidance means for Coloradans
The new mask Executive Order encourages any individual aged 11 and older, who is not fully vaccinated, to continue wearing a mask indoors where members of different households are present. Fully vaccinated individuals can go without masks in almost all settings. Masks are still required in certain settings, which are outlined in the Executive Order. For additional information pertaining to the new guidance, please view the Frequently Asked Questions document here.
Before you ditch the masks, you’ll need to be prepared for those businesses that still require them. Vaccinated or not, please keep an extra mask handy in your pocket, purse, or car for when you need one. Businesses and organizations have their own set of factors to consider before allowing people without masks, so we need to be patient and respect their decisions as everyone transitions to this new guidance.
A clear decline in the fourth wave of cases
Over the last few days, we’ve seen a clear decline in cases among all age groups. While our highest rates continue to be among middle and high school students, we should see more improvements as 12–15 year-olds start to get vaccinated. We’re also seeing hospitalizations decline, which usually shows up in the data one to two weeks following a trend in cases.
Herd immunity will be a moving target
Colorado has hit the 5 million mark for COVID-19 doses administered, but herd immunity will be a moving target. While the threshold for herd immunity is thought to be anywhere between 70–80% of people vaccinated, there are a few variables that would affect the threshold. First of all, we don’t know exactly how many people have developed immunity through being infected with COVID-19. But the more people who get vaccinated, the more certain we are of the number of people with immunity. In Colorado, the areas with the highest vaccination rates are seeing the lowest case rates and vice versa. The more transmissible variants can also affect the threshold needed for herd immunity. The higher the rate of transmission, the higher percentage of people we need to be vaccinated. All things considered, our best bet is to aim for the highest vaccination rate possible.
The bottom line: Like the seasonal flu or common cold, COVID-19 might be here to stay — with cyclical surges and outbreaks. Like most infectious diseases, we have learned to control the spread and minimize the impact on our daily lives — in large part due to the record-breaking development and distribution of life-saving vaccines. If you want to get back to normal and stop wearing a mask, make the choice to get vaccinated.