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COVID booster shots allowed for all adults in California, Colorado and New Mexico

COVID hospitalizations on the rise
COVID hospitalizations on the rise 03:13

Three states — California, Colorado and New Mexico — are allowing COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, even though federal health officials recommend limiting shots to patients considered most at risk. The three states have some of the nation's highest rates of new COVID infections.

"This is really a critical moment in the pandemic," Colorado Governor Jared Polis said. "It has never been more dangerous for the unvaccinated than it is right now."

Polis signed an executive order Thursday declaring Colorado a high-risk COVID state and making every Coloradan who is 18 or older eligible for a booster shot. 

California took the same step. State Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón told providers and local health officials they should "allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure."

"Do not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster" if they are 18 or older and received a second Moderna or Pfizer shot over six months ago, or got a Johnson & Johnson shot two months ago, he wrote in a letter.

New Mexico's governor also signed an executive order Friday expanding booster shot eligibility.

The state actions defy guidance by the FDA and CDC, which last month authorized that only seniors and other higher-risk adults were eligible for booster shots.

In other states, there are calls to go beyond the age restrictions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has required, Michael George reports for "CBS Saturday Morning."

"I would recommend it for all adults and I'm hopeful that we soon have that policy here," said Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Massachusetts, where Dr. Sax works, saw daily cases go from 79 in July to over 1,700 a day this week. The numbers are increasingly typical of COVID's unpredictability.

"We're in an odd place where we may be seeing a version of our future," said Dr. Robert Wachter, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. "And I don't say that with any great joy, because we still have 25,000 cases a day and a thousand deaths a day in the United States."

"As I look at the forces that are going to make things better, more vaccinations, boosters, vaccinating the kids, maybe some new medications coming... I also see some counterbalancing forces that ... make things worse," he said. "People becoming less careful. Immunity waning. ... I kind of think this may be a version of our life that we experience for the next few years."

COVID hospitalizations rose in at least 14 states last week over the week before. Michigan is at a six-month high. In unvaccinated areas of Minnesota, regional hospitals are over-taxed.

"We are essentially at 100% capacity," said Dr. Bret Haake, Chief Medical Officer at Regions Hospital in Saint Paul. "We've been that way for weeks."

Federal health officials fear a possible winter surge as more people move their activities indoors.

"My advice to anyone going into the holidays is that anybody who's unvaccinated should get vaccinated," Haake said. "If I could wave a wand and have everybody vaccinated within a week, this would go away. " 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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