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LTTE: A message on vaccines from Larimer County Public Health

Graphic illustration depicting a letter on a coffee table that reads "Letter to the Editor" surrounded by a coffee cup, pencil and loose papers.
(Graphic Illustration by Christine Moore-Bonbright | The Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

In Larimer County, cases of COVID-19 have significantly decreased in recent weeks, reducing the strain on our local hospitals, allowing us to gather with our friends and loved ones again and helping to strengthen our economy. In May alone, COVID-19 cases decreased 70% thanks to vaccination. 

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In less than six months, over 353,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been received by Larimer County residents. 58% of our community members ages 16 and up are fully vaccinated. In less than a month of being eligible to receive the vaccine, 36% of 12–15-year-olds have already received their first dose. Through large vaccination sites like Moby Area and mobile pop-up clinics in rural areas, churches, community centers, correctional facilities, locations for those experiencing homelessness and small local grocery stores, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment alone has given over 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year.

Experts agree that to keep COVID-19 infections down without restrictions on activities, we’ll need well over 70% of the entire population to be immune, either by recovering from COVID-19 infection or through getting vaccinated.”

While we fell shy of Larimer County’s goal for 65% of residents over age 16 having received at least one dose by May 25, we understood that even with the overwhelming demand for COVID-19 vaccines a few months ago, we would hit a point in our community where vaccination demand slowed. We are starting to lose momentum, and this should raise concerns for all of us. 

In April, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that about 30% of those who haven’t received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine do not plan to get vaccinated. However, 21% say they plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible, 35% say they will wait and see and 14% say they will only get the vaccine if it is required.  

Experts agree that to keep COVID-19 infections down without restrictions on activities, we’ll need well over 70% of the entire population to be immune, either by recovering from COVID-19 infection or through getting vaccinated. But this level depends on whether we’ll see more infectious variants and how people, particularly those not yet immune, interact with each other. One thing that is clear from real-world data is that the more people vaccinated the better.

Larimer County businesses are helping lead the way to increase vaccination rates by either requiring or encouraging employees to get vaccinated and offering incentives like paid time off, special events for fully vaccinated employees and other compensation strategies. Many local businesses in Larimer County have partnered with us to host on-site mobile vaccine clinics for the public, and in some cases, even throw in a free beer. 

graphic illustration depicting a CSU person receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
(Graphic illustration by Robbie Haynes | The Collegian)

Employers can play an important role in increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake, and they’re smart to do so. One of the greatest benefits of a vaccinated workforce is that fully vaccinated employees generally do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, reducing costs due to missed work and improving productivity. 

Currently, everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible to be vaccinated and COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Larimer County. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. After receiving a vaccine, there may be mild side effects, but these are normal. It takes about two weeks after a dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or a second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, for a person to have full immunity from the virus. 

Every person who gets a COVID-19 vaccine helps to end the pandemic and supports the full economic recovery of our local businesses. My biggest concern right now is that there won’t be enough people vaccinated come fall and winter, and we won’t be able to prevent another surge of cases like we saw in November and December 2020. To keep our case rate low, widespread vaccine uptake among all parts of the population, in all areas of the county, is essential.

Please, if you are considering getting vaccinated but have been waiting, make a plan today. If you have a friend or family member on the fence about vaccination, offer to go with them to get their shot. Employers, consider requiring or encouraging your staff to get vaccinated and offering incentives, and reach out to my team at the Health Department if you want to host an on-site clinic. More information can be found at www.larimer.org/covidvaccine or by calling 970-498-5500 during the week. Together, we can do this.

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Tom Gonzales

Larimer County public health director

Letters may be sent to letters@collegian.com. When submitting letters, please abide by the guidelines listed at collegian.com.

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