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Health officials: Unvaccinated Coloradans at greater risk of COVID as new Delta variant spreads in state

Health officials say there are seeing double the hospitalization rate in Colorado due to the...
Health officials say there are seeing double the hospitalization rate in Colorado due to the Delta variant as compared to previous COVID-19 strains.(KKTV)
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 1:58 PM MDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 7:48 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - If you are in Colorado and unvaccinated, you are at an even higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, health officials cautioned Monday.

A new variant is making the rounds in the state -- one that is roughly 50 percent more transmissible than other variants seen in Colorado, said state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy.

“If you are unvaccinated and exposed to COVID now, your chances of becoming infected are much greater than they were earlier in the pandemic.”

Mesa County has the lowest vaccination rate in the state -- and also has more cases of the Delta variant than any other Colorado county.

The Delta variant is posed to become the most common strain in the state, already accounting for nearly 40 percent of all positive cases in Colorado. Recent CDC data shows Colorado has one of the highest proportions of Delta cases in the nation -- second only to Missouri.

In addition to being highly transmissible, severe symptoms appear to be more likely with this variant.

“We’re seeing double the hospitalization rate due to the Delta variant compared to previous COVID-19,” Herlihy said.

None of the above has to be scary -- if you’re vaccinated. Health leaders said Monday that the new variant brings the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine down from 93 percent to 88 percent -- which is still significant protection against the virus. They are urging everyone not vaccinated to do so ASAP, and anyone considering forgoing the second dose to not do so.

“The second dose is more important now than ever before, because what we’ve learned from the UK data is that that second dose is it’s incredibly important to make sure that individuals are protected against a Delta variant,” Herlihy said.

Watch the full news conference below:

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