COVID-19 Variants


TCHD closely monitoring Omicron variant

Along with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), we are closely monitoring the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Omicron is now the dominant strain circulating in Colorado. 

More data are needed to know if Omicron infections, and especially reinfections and breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated, cause more severe illness or death than infection with other variants.

Data so far indicate that current vaccines continue to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur. Scientists and public health partners are working to learn more about this variant. CDC will continue to provide updates as we learn more. 

Everyone 5 years and older can protect themselves from COVID-19 by being up-to-date with their vaccine. People that are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccine are less likely to get sick, or become severely ill, or require hospitalization due to illness. 

Visit the CDC website to see if you are up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

  • People ages 5 – 12 should receive two doses of Pfizer
  • People ages 12 – 17 should receive two doses of Pfizer, followed by a booster five months later
  • People 18 and older should receive either 
    • Two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, followed by a booster five months later or
    • One dose of Johnson & Johnson, followed by a booster two months later

Variants are Common

When a virus is widely spreading in the community and causing infections, it is more likely to mutate or change. A virus that has changed or mutated is called a variant. 

Changes to the virus are usually harmless. However, sometimes the changes are more concerning. Changes could make the virus:

  • easier to spread from one person to another
  • cause more severe illness
  • less treatable with the current treatments
  • less responsive to the vaccines, making it less effective

See how COVID-19 Variants are spreading in the state on the CDPHE Data Dashboard.  Additional information is available from the CDC on COVID-19 Variants. 

Stopping the Spread of the Virus is Key to Stopping New Variants from Circulating

Slowing down the spread of COVID-19 is key to lowering the chance that new variants will develop. The best ways to prevent the spread of any COVID-19 virus remain the same:

  • Practice Safe Six: stay 6 feet apart, wear a mask, wash your hands, be extra safe if you are higher risk, stay home if sick, get tested if you have symptoms. 
  • Register today to get your vaccine.  

I got my vaccine stickerSome COVID-19 Variants are Concerning

New forms, or variants, that cause COVID-19 are circulating around the world and in Colorado. If you were to test positive for COVID-19 today, it’s more likely that you were exposed to a variant strain. Several seem to spread more easily and are of concern. These are their scientific designations, along with their more recent names that come from the Greek alphabet:

  • B.1.1.7: Alpha
  • B.1.351: Beta
  • P.1: Gamma
  • B.1.617.2: Delta
  • B.1.1.529: Omicron

Current data shows the COVID-19 vaccines should work against current variants. Along with getting the vaccine as soon as one becomes available to you, continue to be safe by wearing masks and social distancing in public places, and avoiding large crowds. 

Colorado is Testing and Monitoring for Variants

Testing is being done through the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to find variants in Colorado. Contact tracing is then conducted to help stop the spread of the new variant in the community it is located in.

COVID-19 Vaccines May Work Against Some Variants

The currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are effective at reducing or preventing serious illness and death caused by COVID-19. Research is underway to determine the level of protection the current vaccines have on new variants.

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