COLORADO SPRINGS — As COVID-19 vaccinations continue across Colorado and the United States – an enormous undertaking seen in the news almost every day - it can be easy to lose perspective on the historic nature of what's happening day in and day out.
Over a three-day period last week, UCHealth vaccinated more than 5,000 people in Colorado Springs, the majority at the vaccine clinic at the Medical Administration Center off Pikes Peak Avenue. Carolyn Carroll Flynn, a registered nurse, is the COVID-19 vaccine clinic manager for the UCHealth south region that is now providing about 2,000 vaccinations each day it holds clinics. Carolyn has also helped out at some of the drive-through mass vaccination efforts put on by UCHealth in Denver, so she has seen - and interacted with – multitudes of people getting vaccinated.
Carolyn told me, “I am an ICU nurse, and I will say this is probably one of the most rewarding, fill-your-bucket type of moments I've ever had in my career. The gratitude and the appreciation we are seeing from patients, truly - we are making history. None of us have ever gone through a pandemic, and now we are in my mind providing hope. It's (the vaccine) the beacon of hope we are starting to see. You can see it in the patient's eyes and their gratitude - and it's profound.”
She’s referring to people like Bill Couch, a Colorado Springs resident who had his first dose of the vaccine in late January at a UCHealth vaccine clinic. Bill says, "It was a wonderful brief experience. We have heard from relatives that got the shot in other states, and they waited hours - in long lines outside - and this was fast. We had an appointment at 9 a.m. got here about 20 till 9, and they took us right in. I was done by 8:55 a.m."
As people like Bill wait to get their second dose, Carolyn says it's important they don't let their guard down when it comes to fighting the virus. “Relaxing on the mask-wearing or hand hygiene or social distancing - we just can't do it; we have got to stay on it. People are still susceptible to the COVID virus after the first shot. You are not guaranteed any level of immunity until about 7 to 10 days after the booster shot to get up to the 94% or 95% effectiveness. So we have to continue with the mask-wearing and the hand hygiene and social distancing as much as possible.”
As more people are beginning to get their second dose, many are experiencing short-term, stronger flu-like symptoms they didn't experience following their first shot. Carolyn says that is completely normal and is something you can easily prepare for and treat. “You've already activated the immune system with the first shot, so with the second your symptoms can be a little more impactful. It can be everything from headache to body aches, fever, chills - kind of a flu-like presenting. So staying hydrated and staying on Tylenol and Ibuprofen after the second shot is very helpful.”
To register with UCHealth to get on a list to receive a vaccination, visit www.uchealth.org/covidvaccine [uchealth.org]. Or, if you don’t have access to a computer, you can call their hotline at 720-462-2255.
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