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Broomfield Public Health focusing on mitigation, vaccines and boosters
Daily Camera - 10/13/2021
Oct. 13—With the coronavirus delta variant continuing to spread, Broomfield Public Health officials have their focus on three areas for the remainder of the year.
They are to continue to mitigate the disease's transmission in high-risk settings, to provide booster shots to eligible residents and to vaccinate individuals age 5-11 when they become eligible, Public Health Director Jason Vahling told members of the City Council on Monday during a COVID-19 Q&A.
He said the intensive care unit capacity is the highest its been throughout the pandemic, "which is extremely concerning." In Broomfield, hospitalizations are increasing, predominantly among unvaccinated individuals, Vahling said, adding vaccinated residents are 8.2 times less likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19.
Breakthrough case are becomingly increasingly common in Broomfield, which Vahling said isn't unexpected given the large number of vaccinated residents and waning immunity. He said 42% of cases in August and September were among vaccinated residents, and encouraged individuals to get a booster vaccine when available for that reason.
Vahling said there was a significant increase in the past month of residents age 12-15 getting vaccinated, which he linked to the fact that there have been no outbreaks in Broomfield schools of that age group.
State data shows Broomfield is the seventh most vaccinated county in Colorado among individuals 12 and up at 87%. Of vaccinated residents 65 or older, Broomfield is the No. 1 most vaccinated county in the state with 99.9%.
There are 20,430 residents who are not vaccinated in Broomfield, city and county shows. Of that, 9,501 residents aren't yet eligible to be vaccinated. When the 5-11 age group is approved for vaccination, Vahling said 5,880 of the 9,501 will become eligible.
Data updated Tuesday evening shows there've been 6,397 COVID-19 cases in Broomfield, resulting in 302 hospitalizations and 79 deaths. There have been 104,700 vaccine doses administered, leading to 50,333 fully vaccinated residents and 2,691 partially vaccinated residents.
There were 12 hospitalizations and two deaths reported in September. Vahling said there's been four deaths reported since mid-July, which "shows the vaccine is doing what it's supposed to do."
While many of Broomfield's neighboring counties are working through mask mandates or vaccine requirements, Vahling said he doesn't yet feel the need to create a public health order requiring individuals to be vaccinated in certain settings.
"We have yet to see outbreaks in that 12 to 18 population, which again leads me that we don't need to modify or change our public health order at this time," he said of Broomfield's current order requiring 2- to 11-year-olds to wear masks in school settings.
He continued, "Here in Broomfield we've always had a higher vaccine rate and so I'm a little bit hesitant at this point to suggest that the county needs a public health order requiring vaccines, specifically in our government buildings or high-risk settings because of our numbers. I'm not sure that we could increase (vaccinations) that much more through a public health order."
Vahling gave a similar presentation during the City Council on Tuesday evening, acting as the Board of Health. Following his presentation, Councilwoman Kimberly Groom asked what metrics are needed so that 2- to 5-year-olds do not need to wear a mask indoors. Vahling said he hopes to see an uptick in vaccines among eligible populations, adding, "We're talking about as a region, if you have a 70% vaccination rate in a community within the 5-18 age group is one key measure, the second is looking at community case rates. The CDC defines less than 50 per 100,000 community case rates as being moderate transmission and no longer substantial."
The FDA is convening Thursday and Friday to review booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and on Oct. 26, the FDA is scheduled to review vaccines for the 5-11 age group, Vahling noted.
Vahling noted Monday the city and county's webpage tracking coronavirus metrics will soon update to better reflect the state of the virus. The 12-19 age range will switch to 12-18, to see what's happening to the school-based population. The 5-11 age range will also soon be its own category to track the age range that's poised to be approved for the vaccines in the coming weeks.
Following Vahling's presentation Monday, Mayor Guyleen Castriotta said she was encouraged.
"That's a pretty good update, and we're pretty close to the estimates of when we're going to have boosters available, so that's really encouraging and really good news," she said.
For more information or to find a vaccine location, visit broomfield.org/3123/COVID-19-Information.
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