COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- All providers administering the Pfizer vaccine can now vaccinate Coloradans ages 12 and up, according to the latest guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Despite a recent decline in cases and hospitalizations statewide, health officials said Thursday, the highest rates continue to be among 11 to 17 year olds.
"Our highest rates do continue to be among those middle school and high school students," Epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy said.
In El Paso County, at least 41 of the 113 active outbreaks reported by the county health department are at K-12 schools.
It's one reason health officials have shifted their focus more heavily on community-based vaccination efforts.
"They’ve been preparing for the potential approval of the vaccine for the 12-15 year olds and as a result, they were able to start doing the administration of the vaccine with 12-15 year olds today," Vaccine Task Force Deputy Director, Kate McIntire said.
According to Colorado's Vaccine Task Force, providers have been preparing for the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15 for awhile.
"We really wanted to make sure that we were ready for the communities that we serve, so that those individuals who want to get their kiddos vaccinated, that they had the opportunity on the first day, "Safeway Pharmacy Director Nikki Price said.
Most providers and community vaccination sites are already offering vaccines for this newly eligible age group, including Safeway, which is doing walk-in appointments with parental consent.
"We have received a lot of feedback," Price said. "We're partnering with some school districts as well too. We had a number of calls into our stores to see if we had the Pfizer vaccine."
They're also giving parents and children the option to co-administer the vaccine with others that may be necessary ahead of the next school year, following new CDC guidance.
"So, if there was, let's say your 12-year-old who also needed their tetanus," Price said, "For example, because that's typically right around that timeframe, depending on their age or when they initially got their tetanus. They could get it at the same time."