Colorado among US leaders for adolescent vaccination, but that’s only part of the story

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DENVER (KDVR) — The country has only a week to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of adults vaccinated by July 4, and while some areas have already met that threshold the country as a whole likely won’t.

Some segments of the population are faring better than others, though data problems make specifics hard to track in certain cases.

Gov. Jared Polis announced on Friday that Colorado’s adult population is 69% vaccinated. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data confirms that number.

Colorado has the 21st-highest vaccination rate in the country for 18+ population, with 3.11 million adults vaccinated with at least one dose.

Polis said the rate for children is much lower.

“We’re not even close to 70% for 12-17,” he told reporters Friday.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have some differences with state health department data but do confirm Polis’ point. According to CDC data, 69.2% of Colorado’s population 18 and over is vaccinated with at least one dose.

About 185,040 people 12-17 have gotten one dose. State demography data gives an estimated population of 446,750 Coloradans aged 12 to 17, meaning 41% of 12-17-year-olds have at least one dose.

Another 128,000 more will need to start their vaccination to reach 70%.

However, this does place Colorado at the top of the heap in terms of how many of its vaccinated persons are between 12 and 17 years old. Of all the vaccinated people in Colorado, about 5.6% are in that age group, putting our state in the top 10 U.S. states for teenage vaccinations.

On a more granular level, data points to certain groups lagging behind others in vaccination rates, but data gathering blips could nudge those numbers up.

As reported by the Aurora Sentinel, minority groups in Aurora seem to be trailing statewide vaccination rates for the same groups.

Most recent number says 53.4% of Aurora’s White non-Hispanics are vaccinated. By contrast, only 24.1% of Aurora’s Black non-Hispanic and 21.7% of Hispanic populations are vaccinated.

Nearby cities seems at face value to have higher rates for the same population. Denver’s Black population, for example, is 47.8% vaccinated, and its Hispanic population is 37.3% vaccinated.

Further, Aurora’s total vaccination rate is beneath the statewide rate at 47.6%.

While they acknowledge they want to step vaccination rates up, however, health officials also say Aurora’s totals are likely higher than the numbers present. Data gathering issues blur the issue.

The addresses that ought to be counted as Aurora are not self-reported as such. Homes often adopt the nearest post office, which may be in a different city. These border addresses get counted in adjacent cities or counties instead of Aurora.

“Total vaccination numbers are lower by 6%-8% due to issues geocoding address (typos in the address or not able to match to an address location),” explained Adam Anderson, health data and GIS manager for the Tri-County Health Department. “It’s a problem that’s familiar to anybody who’s ever done any kind of geolocation.”

Further, there are another 9,000 vaccinated persons not counted in the appropriate county. That issue alone bumps Aurora’s vaccination rate up to 50%. The geolocation totals could push it up to 53% or 54%, closer in line with the state rate.

Differences in demographic data are also likely higher than numbers suggest.

“There are 26,868 vaccinated individuals not reporting their race ethnicity which are more likely to be Non-White and or Hispanic/Lantix individuals,” said Anderson.

These unclassified groups happen to live largely in heavily non-White areas, Anderson said, meaning they could bump one or the other up closer to statewide rates if added back into the total.

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