Polis: 90% of Colorado teachers have received first vaccine dose

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DENVER | Gov. Jared Polis said in a news conference Tuesday that about 90% of teachers and licensed child care workers in the state had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The state began targeting professionals who work with children for the shots Feb. 8, armed with a weekly supply of about 30,000 vaccines. Polis said officials originally aimed to have about three-quarters of teachers vaccinated by now.

“I’m proud that teachers are leading the way and that 90% percent of teachers have decided to get vaccinated, and I hope that others follow that remarkable lead,” Polis said.

That figure is higher than the vaccination rate for seniors aged 70 and above — a cohort that has accounted for the lion’s share of hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus. So far, about 74% of that group has received at least one shot.

In the Tri-County region, about 11% of residents are totally vaccinated, although racial and income disparities remain. 

Polis noted that the vaccination rate for teachers will help boost efforts to reopen local school districts.

The Sentinel reported Tuesday that Cherry Creek schools plans to have students and staff of all grades return to class two weeks after spring break. Currently, Creek kids are rotating in and out of class in a “cohort” style.

Polis said that the worst of the pandemic is likely over. Clinics, pop-ups, hospitals and pharmacies continue to roll-out the vaccine in Aurora, and efforts will soon boom from the arrival of the new Johnson & Johnson shot.

However, state health officials found a strain of the new coronavirus that first appeared in South Africa.

Rachel Herlihy, the state epidemiologist, said three cases of the variant were found in a Buena Vista correctional facility. She said the virus strain likely spreads more quickly and that a vaccine “may not work quite as well in preventing infection.”

Colorado is soon expected to crest 6,000 deaths due to the virus, Polis said.