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Latest Modeling: Vaccinations Can Still Prevent a Large Burden of Disease if Coloradans Get at least One Shot Before Labor Day

As schools come back in session, it is imperative that teens are also vaccinated

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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado School of Public Health released an updated statewide modeling report showing the projected impact of increased vaccine uptake in Colorado by Labor Day weekend. The models show that Colorado could still experience thousands more cases of severe, but avoidable, COVID-19 over the months ahead. Vaccination is the key to preventing these cases.

By comparing vaccination scenarios, the modeling shows that immediately increasing vaccination rates to 80% among adults (with at least one shot) will prevent substantial COVID-19 hospitalizations this fall. The model also looks at a 70% target for Colorado teen vaccinations as schools prepare to reopen, posing a risk for increasing infections in this age group.

To reach 80% of Colorado adults with at least one shot, 456,000 first doses will need to be administered in August; to reach 70% of Colorado teens with at least one shot, 90,500 first doses will need to be administered to teens this month. The numbers are different because there are far more adults than teens in Colorado. The latest modeling provides projections based on COVID-19 hospital census data through July 26 and vaccination data through July 25, 2021.

Vaccinations were declining daily over the summer in all age groups, but the state saw an uptick in vaccinations in the last week. The modeling team indicates that on a per vaccination basis, vaccinating an adult prevents more hospitalization than vaccinating a teen, but as teens and kids return to school, the differential gains from vaccinating adults are reduced.

“We looked at a number of scenarios related to vaccination and modeling the projected infection rate,” said Jon Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and lead on the Colorado COVID-19 Modeling team. “As more adults are vaccinated, there are less hospitalizations, and as kids prepare to go back to school this fall, there will be more risk. If we can reach the threshold of 80% of adults and 70% of teens vaccinated with at least one shot by Labor Day, we will prevent many cases of severe COVID-19 this fall.” 

The Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) assembled the expert group that works with the state on modeling projections. The group includes modeling scientists at the ColoradoSPH and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, as well as experts from the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado State University. The models are based on Colorado data and incorporate assumptions reflecting the current state of the science.

All previous modeling reports are available on the Colorado School of Public Health’s COVID-19 website.