Coronavirus

Colorado Counties Where Even Older People Resist the Vaccine

A look at Las Animas in Bent County.
A look at Las Animas in Bent County. KOAA via YouTube
Newly available COVID-19 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reveals low vaccination rates in some counties among those age 65 and older, a group more vulnerable to death or severe consequences from the disease.

Statistics also show that in several counties with low overall vaccination rates, the overwhelming majority of seniors are vaccinated — suggesting that the rates for younger residents are worse than previously realized.

This week, the CDPHE revamped its COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, with new breakdowns showing vaccination rates for all 64 Colorado counties in three specific age categories: 65 and up, 18 and up, and 12 and up. Among other things, this info confirms that senior vaccination rates are flat-out spectacular in many places, including some surprising ones.

El Paso County is a case in point. As of today, August 6, the county's full vaccination rate for all eligible residents is a middling 56 percent — but it's at 99.9 percent for people 65 and older. Since U.S. Census figures for El Paso County calculate that individuals over age 65 account for 13.2 percent of the population, the full vaccination rate for other eligible citizens is barely over 40 percent.

Nine Colorado counties have full vaccination rates above 90 percent for people 65 and older: El Paso (99.9 percent), La Plata (99.9 percent), Montezuma (99.9 percent), Broomfield (95.4 percent), Boulder (95.1 percent), Douglas (93.9 percent), Gunnison (91.3 percent), Routt (91.2 percent), and Adams (91.1 percent). In fourteen more counties, the full vaccination rate for that age group falls between 80 and 90 percent; Denver's rate is 83.9 percent.

In Mesa County, which has become the Colorado poster child for poor vaccination rates while leading the state in Delta variant cases, 80 percent of the 65-and-older group (19.7 percent of the county's overall population) is fully vaccinated. But the county's overall percentage of fully vaccinated residents is just 46.8 percent — and if you subtract older residents, it's likely well below 40 percent.

The ten Colorado counties with the worst vaccination rates for the 65-and-older crowd range from 63 percent in Morgan County to just 35.8 percent in Bent County. They're almost all conservative areas; only Pitkin County voted for Joe Biden in 2020.

Continue to count down the ten worst of Colorado's 64 counties for full vaccination among older and eligible residents, complete with the size of the county's 65-and-up segment according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Morgan County
65 and older: 63 percent
12 and up: 43.1 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 15.6 percent

Baca County
65 and older: 60.9 percent
12 and up: 37.4 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 24.4 percent

Lincoln County
65 and older: 60.8 percent
12 and up: 36.5 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 17.6 percent

Cheyenne County
65 and older: 54.1 percent
12 and up: 28.4 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 21.0 percent

Pitkin County
65 and older: 53.7 percent
12 and up: 67.6 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 20.3 percent

Washington County
65 and older: 52.9 percent
12 and up: 29.2 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 21.4 percent

Saguache County
65 and older: 51.7 percent
12 and up: 41.4 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 24.5 percent

Dolores County
65 and older: 51 percent
12 and up: 37.5 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 26.2 percent

Crowley County
65 and older: 50.3 percent
12 and up: 38.7 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 14 percent

Bent County
65 and older: 35.8 percent
12 and up: 37.2 percent
Percentage of population over 65: 18.9 percent
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts