DENVER (CBS4) - Governor Jared Polis said the state is prepared to roll out a plan for administering COVID-19 booster shots as soon as next week if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve it by then. Pfizer is expected to receive approval by Sept. 20, while the FDA has said it may need additional time and evidence to judge the Moderna vaccine.
"Colorado has the resources, the infrastructure, the plan to continue to offer the vaccination of those who are unvaccinated, while also offering boosters to those who want it as well," Polis said in a news conference Monday afternoon.
According to Polis, the rollout will be similar to the original vaccination plan. Initial focus will be on rolling out a large-scale booster shot plan for long-term care facilities and then for the general public.
The state hopes to offer booster clinics at long-term care facilities between Sept. 20 and Oct. 11, Lt. Col. Jamie Pieper, Colorado National Guard and Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Vaccination said. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) is working with facilities to get them their provider of choice.
For the general public, there will be small to midsized vaccination sites, as well as availability from medical providers and pharmacies.
On Monday, Gov. Polis said around 73,000 people in Colorado have received a third dose, which amounts to about 2.4% of the vaccinated population. 75% of Coloradans ages 12 and up have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
Colorado's COVID-19 Incident Commander Scott Bookman said the state estimates it can administer more than 645,000 doses per week and 2.58 million per month, if needed. Booster shots could be approved for people six-to-eight months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
"We really want to make sure that all Coloradans have the ability to get this booster when it is their time to get it," Bookman said.
National Jewish Health is one of many facilities currently administering booster shots to immunocompromised patients. It began doing so in August, after getting the thumbs up from the state.
The facility has since administered about 1,200 shots.
"We reached out to our patients who we know are immune-compromised," said Dr. Carrie Horn, Chief Medical Officer at National Jewish Health.
"Those people are at increased risk for disease and for not responding to the first two doses, so they really benefit from the third."
According to Horn, National Jewish recently did a small study of vaccine recipients and found between 20% and 25% did not show high antibody levels, one factor in immunity, after their second dose. A third dose could change that for some patients.
"What the studies have shown is that you actually do get a really nice bump in that immediate neutralizing antibody response to COVID to give you that better protection," Horn said.
"It's kind of giving your immune system a little boost. It's helping that memory be a little bit quicker."
Horn said National Jewish is planning on administering about 100 doses a day but can adjust accordingly after the state releases more of its plan following FDA approval.
"They have pretty ambitious goals as to how many doses can be given per week and we can certainly ramp us as we see what the demand is," she said.
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