Governor Polis Discusses State’s Response Efforts, Information on State Vaccine Requirements

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

DENVER - Today, Governor Polis provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s decision to require vaccines for employees working in its 24/7 facilities and interacting with vulnerable populations. He was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, who provided a modeling update, as well as Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director Michelle Barnes and Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams.

“Colorado currently has the 7th lowest COVID rate, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. We’re still learning about the virus, though we know that the Delta variant has truly changed the trajectory of this pandemic,” said Governor Polis. “The best thing we can all do is get vaccinated and wear a mask indoors around others for an additional level of protection.”

Several weeks ago Colorado announced that all state employees will have to verify their vaccination status by September 20 or submit to twice-weekly testing. Yesterday, the Department of Public Health, Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services announced that agency staff members that interact with vulnerable populations and those living in congregate living settings will be required to get vaccinated. Department of Corrections staff will have until September 30 to get their first dose, and until October 31 to be fully vaccinated, and Human Services staff will have until September 30 to get their first dose and November 14 to get their second.

The Governor also reiterated his call for the State Board of Health to require the vaccine for all personnel working with Colorado’s most vulnerable and in settings where people receive essential health care services. He applauded the medical care providers who have already taken this critical step, including UCHealth, Banner Health, Denver Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, SCL Health, Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center, National Jewish, Boulder Community Hospital and Kaiser Permanente. There are also several senior living facilities such as Genesis and Vivage who have done the same. 

The FDA recently approved third doses of the vaccine for immunocompromised Americans. Right now, immunocompromised Coloradans can visit any provider in the state and get a third dose of the vaccine. In addition to the more than 1500 providers across the state who are administering the vaccine, the state is working directly with long-term care facilities to identify Coloradans in these settings who are considered immunocompromised, going so far as to set up vaccination clinics on-site to ensure that all residents are protected.

Health officials announced that booster shots will now be available to Americans starting on September 20, eight months after the second dose of the vaccine, which means that health care workers and older Coloradans will be the first to be eligible. More information will be provided as it becomes available from the Federal government. The state is making plans to ensure Coloradans can receive their booster when they’re eligible.

For more information on where to get the vaccine, please visit 

View today’s press conference.