KSUT|Sarah Flower |OCT.13, 2021

Colorado is preparing their COVID-19 vaccine rollout as early as next week for children ages 5-11. This comes at a time when Colorado health officials say that the same demographic had a 400% increase in cases during the months of August and September.

Interview Transcript:

Sarah Flower 
The Food and Drug Administration is expected to give full approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds today. The next step, getting doses into the arms of these children is up to the CDC which meets next week to grant full approval. Colorado expects to get over 170,000 pediatric doses by the first week of November. The state says that would be enough to vaccinate roughly 30% of kids in that age group with their first dose. Diana Herrero is the Deputy Director Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response in Colorado. She says her and her team are hopeful to get at least half of this demographic their first jab by the end of January.

Diana Herrero 
Colorado has about 480,000 kiddos in this age group. And we have a goal of reaching 50% with one dose by January 31. We chose this particular timeframe because it took us about three months to reach 50% of 12 to 17 year olds with one dose. We are working hard to make sure that we’ve got at least one pediatric vaccine clinic in every single county in the state and in a variety of venues.

Herrero says the state is partnering with 384 clinic locations statewide, including community health centers, pediatric offices, local public health agencies, mobile vaccines and retail pharmacies. According to the state’s pediatric vaccine campaign, La Plata County has ordered the most doses of vaccines in southwest Colorado, which is likely due to their larger population of children. While health officials welcome the news of more vaccines, Governor Jared Polis sounded alarms at a news conference Thursday of possibly putting emergency measures in place as hospitalization rates climb. The potential action plan includes requesting FEMA medical surge teams, temporarily stopping cosmetic surgeries and other elected procedures, activating crisis care standards, a new executive order on patient transfers and the distribution of monoclonal antibodies. Polis says he’s not ready to roll out all of these measures just yet. But he will be implementing the mobile monoclonal antibody treatment as early as next week.

Governor Polis
Here in Colorado and across much of the country, these have historically been administered in hospitals. That isn’t necessary to do in a hospital setting. So we want to clear that out of the hospitals. We are launching five buses, that will be providing mobile monoclonal antibody treatment. We are in conversations with all our major health systems to move that out of their hospitals to their outpatient or urgent care facilities across the state.

This plan all comes at a time when the Four Corners region is seeing a surge of COVID-19. Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are in the top 10 states in the nation with high case rates. San Juan County New Mexico has an almost 17% positivity rate. While San Juan County Utah’s public health department is reporting over 24% positivity rate. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is showing Montezuma County’s average at 15%. Part of Polis’s potential statewide action plan is an executive order on patient transfer. If implemented, Polis talks about what a measure like that would mean on areas similar to the Four Corners with so much interstate crossover.

If we move forward with that we would have a discussion with the New Mexico governor and their health team with regard to interstate transfers, our own authority only extends to our borders. That’s one of the tools in the tool shed that we were looking at, and what we’ve seen, really across the history of the pandemic in our country in the world. And what we’re seeing now is regional peaks and valleys. And right now, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming are experiencing a peak. And as we move forward with our hospital capacity strategy, we will coordinate with our neighboring states.