In an effort to boost vaccine take-up ahead of the upcoming festive season, the state health department has released guidance on when to get vaccinated  for the greatest protection against COVID-19 by the holidays.

“The holidays are special because they often mean getting together with multiple generations of family and friends,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Many of us have had to sacrifice and cancel gatherings over the past 20 months because of the pandemic. This year, we have the option to gather more safely thanks to the vaccine. At a time when we think about all the things we are grateful for— let’s be especially grateful for the vaccine. Take advantage of it. It could save your life or the lives of your loved ones.”

The guidance from CDPHE shows that in order to be considered fully vaccinated, those who are still unvaccinated would need to get their first dose by:

  • Oct. 14 for Moderna, Oct. 21 for Pfizer and Nov. 11 for Johnson & Johnson for Thanksgiving
  • Oct. 17 for Moderna, Oct. 24 for Pfizer and Nov. 14 for Johnson & Johnson for the start of Hanukkah
  • Nov. 13 for Moderna, Nov. 20 for Pfizer and Dec. 11 for Johnson & Johnson for Christmas

The guidance comes the same week that CDPHE data showed there are more Coloradans hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other point this year and the state has surpassed 8,000 deaths from the virus.

There's a stark difference in mortality among vaccinated versus unvaccinated Coloradans: According to state data, the per-1 million death rate in August was over 70 for residents who hadn't been inoculated, as opposed to 19.5 for vaccinated residents.

More than three-quarters of Coloradans hospitalized from COVID-19 are also unvaccinated. As of Tuesday, there were 1,045 patients with confirmed (976) or suspected (69) cases of COVID-19; of those confirmed, 216 have been vaccinated versus 760 who haven't. Gov. Jared Polis said earlier this week that if the entire state were vaccinated, fewer than 300 people would be hospitalized.

"Some (unvaccinated people in the hospital) won't even make it, some will die," the governor told reporters. "Some will make it, but it will be a harrowing few days and weeks. We wish them well in their recovery, but we also wish that their misery helps get the message out on why people should be vaccinated."

Both the total and confirmed hospitalization figures are the highest marks of 2021 thus far.

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