State agencies with 24/7 facilities to require COVID-19 vaccinations for staff members

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STATEWIDE (Aug. 17, 2021) — The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC), the Colorado Department of  Human Services (CDHS), and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment  (CDPHE), announced that agency staff members and other state employees that interact with  vulnerable populations and populations living in congregate living settings will be required to  be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Delta variant is increasing COVID-19 cases and  hospitalizations in our state like in the rest of the country and data shows that unvaccinated  people are at a higher risk of getting the COVID-19 virus and spreading it to others.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state public health officials concur that  the best way to protect Coloradans is for individuals to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

“We have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of our staff and the  incarcerated individuals in our custody to the best of our ability. Some people will say  that it is a personal choice whether or not they want to get vaccinated, but it is very  difficult to socially distance in congregate settings, and inmates do not have a choice  regarding where they live and who they come in contact with,” said CDOC Executive  Director Dean Williams. An individual who can get the vaccine and yet is avoiding it, is  potentially putting the lives of the people around them at risk and individuals  incarcerated at risk. Our dedicated staff have a responsibility to protect public safety and  that includes protecting their loved ones, co-workers, inmates, parolees, and  communities from this potentially deadly virus.”

“We are in the health care business. It is our ultimate responsibility to do everything we  can to protect and provide for the wellbeing of our clients, and one another,” said CDHS 
Executive Director Michelle Barnes. “Our clients are in congregate care settings. This virus  and its variants have hit these environments hard. It is incumbent upon us to do the right  thing for our clients, staff, loved ones and community." 

"The vaccine is the most powerful tool we have to end this pandemic, but it’s only  effective when people get it. We are continuing to make the vaccine as accessible as  possible, and more than 3 million Coloradans are already fully vaccinated. By requiring  the vaccine for people who work in congregate settings and with high-risk populations, we  can make even more of a difference. We simply cannot allow the delta variant to  jeopardize the progress we have achieved in protecting Coloradans," said Jill Hunsaker  Ryan, executive director, CDPHE. 

The staff members included in the mandate for CDOC and CDPHE will have until September  30th to receive the first dose of the vaccine and are required to be fully vaccinated by  October 31. CDHS staff will be on a staggered rollout by facility with fully vaccinated dates  between October 31 and November 14. Staff members can either receive their vaccine  through clinics hosted by their department, or can receive their vaccine at any of the  numerous public options around the state, their provider, and provide proof of that  vaccination to their department. Colorado has a digital verified vaccine card in the form of the myColorado mobile app, which empowers Coloradans to access their own information when and where they want it.  

For CDOC: all CDOC employees that interface with the public, interact with inmates or  parolees, or who enter into facilities as part of their job assignment will be required to  receive the vaccine. CDOC will also require other state employees, contract employees,  visitors, volunteers and vendors who enter a prison facility to be vaccinated (with some  accommodations made for extenuating circumstances). 

For CDHS: all CDHS direct care and support staff who regularly enter CDHS facilities, including  all leadership positions at CDHS and other state employees who may interact with facility  staff, will be required to receive the vaccine. CDHS will also require proof of vaccination for  contractors who regularly enter facilities and interact with clients. This includes but is not  limited to providers of OT/PT, education providers, security personnel, and temporary staff. 

For CDPHE: all CDPHE employees, temporary staff, and contractors who go in-person to  health facilities to perform a job duty (e.g., long-term care facility inspectors); staff and  contractors who are on-site administering or managing vaccine or testing events; staff and  contractors in the Disease Control and Public Health Response Division (DCPHR), including  from the State Lab and Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response; and staff and  contractors who could come in face-to-face contact with moderate-to-severe  immunocompromised Coloradans through the regular course of their duties, as defined by the CDC’s additional dose recommendations.

Additional Information: 

Employees of CDOC and CDHS have had access to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since January  of 2021. The Departments have held numerous vaccine clinics in order to provide continued access to the vaccine for staff as well as inmates and clients. The Departments also provided  other incentive programs to encourage vaccination. 

Currently 58.7% of all DOC staff are fully vaccinated (both doses of Moderna/Pfizer or the one  dose Johnson and Johnson). Amongst the inmate population, 64% are fully vaccinated and  another 8% have received at least their first dose. 

The current vaccination rate for all of CDHS direct care staff is 77%, and 73% for residents and  clients.

More information on where to find a vaccine and the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine can be found here

Contact: Colorado Department of Corrections
Annie Skinner, Public Information Officer

Colorado Department of Human Services
Mark Techmeyer, Director of Communications

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 
Jessica Bralish, Director of Communications