75% of Colorado adults now have at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, pediatric cases on the rise

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DENVER | As of Tuesday 75% of Colorado adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, but for children who are too young to be vaccinated, their risk from the virus is as high as it has been since the pandemic started.

At a Tuesday news conference to discuss the coronavirus, state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy said that Colorado has seen a “pretty rapid rise in pediatric cases” beginning in July.

“This is the first time in the pandemic that we’re really seeing this high rate in children,” she said.

The COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be approved for children under 12, and children ages 6-11 have the highest case rates of minors, Herlihy said.

The overall pediatric numbers are still small, however. Children ages 6-11 have about a seven-day incidence rate of 40 cases per 100,000. Out of 796 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 10 are ages 0 to 11 and seven are ages 12 to 17.

Herlihy said it wasn’t immediately clear what was causing the increase, and that it is likely influenced by a number of factors, which were not cited. She said that it’s important for children who are unvaccinated to wear masks in schools and other public places, and recommended against taking them to large gatherings.

The state is also seeing an increase in RSV, a respiratory virus that can be dangerous for infants and young children. In Colorado and nationwide, there were very few cases of influenza and other non-COVID respiratory diseases last winter. It’s possible because of the mild season, people are more susceptible this year, Herlihy said. 

Unvaccinated people make up the majority of hospitalizations, said Scott Bookman, Colorado’s COVID-19 incident commander. The hospitalization rate of the unvaccinated is seven times that or people who are fully vaccinated.

The state’s current percent positivity rate is 6.22% of people getting tested for the virus testing positive, slightly over the target of below 5%.

As of Monday, 79% of ICU beds in the state were in use, Bookman said, but only 38.6% of adult ventilators and 33.7% of pediatric ventilators were being used. The state is monitoring hospital capacity on a daily basis, he said.

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