By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4)– Gov. Jared Polis is urging the state board of health to require the COVID-19 vaccine for staff working with vulnerable populations and places where people receive essential medical care.

(Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

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“After much consideration and conversations with both senior living industry leaders, patient advocates, and leaders in healthcare, I am writing today to ask that you engage in expedited rulemaking to require the vaccine for all personnel working directly with our vulnerable populations, personnel working in facilities with medically vulnerable populations, and personnel in the settings where people receive essential medical care,” Polis wrote in a statement.

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Although Colorado is facing better than some other states, there is a rise in COVID-19 cases, largely due to the Delta variant which is more easily transmissible and can lead to more severe symptoms.

“In Colorado, many major hospitals have already taken this step, including UCHealth, Banner Health, Denver Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, SCL Health, Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center, National Jewish, Boulder Community Hospital and Kaiser Permanente. Several senior living facilities such as Genesis and Vivage have also instituted a vaccine requirement. These leaders have shared with me their personal struggle to make this decision, concerns about their workforce and potential impacts on their patients. In our conversations, these leaders have shared that while they know they made the right decision and are willing to do their part, this is hard and could exacerbate workforce stress and shortages. Therefore, they urged me and for the state to act on a more comprehensive approach to the entire healthcare and caretaker workforce in order to prevent more disruption to the workforce’s needs. As an employer, we practice what we preach and the State of Colorado will announce today that we will be requiring all personnel working in our 24/7 facilities receive their first dose by September 30th as a condition of employment,” read the governor’s letter.

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Earlier this month, Polis announced that unvaccinated state workers must begin serial testing and continue to wear masks while indoors in public spaces.

Jennifer McRae