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Your Healthy Family: Preparing properly to get a COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 1:17 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 15:22:37-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — As more people every day are getting the chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine in southern Colorado, there are some important things to know - and do - before you arrive for your appointment.

First things first, of course, is getting that appointment when your age group or work group is eligible. One way you can register for an appointment right now, no matter what group you fall into, is to open a free account on UCHealth’s patient portal if you don’t already have one. This will put you on a list to be contacted for a vaccine and something you can do even if your usual doctor isn’t with UCHealth.

Carolyn Carroll Flynn, RN, is the manager of UCHealth’s vaccine clinics in the south region. Carolyn says UCHealth is currently scheduling appointments to the appropriate age groups, “Patients 70 and older who are active on My Health Connection, where it is truly an automated lottery system. We are pushing invitations out to patients that trigger an email or notification through the My Health Connection app and then you have 48 hours to respond to that invitation and schedule your appointment. Patients need to make to arrive at the correct location - either at our Memorial Hospital North location or here at the MAC, the Memorial Administrative Center off of Pikes Peak at their specified time. That’s important because we are very busy most days, doing almost 1,000 people a day, so being on time is helpful for all of us ”

Once you have your appointment, Carolyn says, “We need to make sure patients arrive at the correct location (in Colorado Springs) at either our UCHealth Memorial Hospital North location or here at the MAC, the Memorial Administrative Center off of Pikes Peak at their specified time. That's important, because we are very busy, doing almost 1000 people most days, so being on time is helpful for all of us.”

Carolyn also says there are simple steps you can take to prepare your body for a good vaccine experience. “What we would like to recommend is a lot of water; you need to stay hydrated. The CDC does *not recommend pre-medicating, meaning taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen before you come in, however after you get the vaccine it's recommended those will help with the soreness of the arm or any of the potential side effects you may get after the first or second shot.”

Carolyn says she has been seeing firsthand what the vast majority of reactions to the vaccine has been. “Traditionally on the first dose it's very similar to getting a flu vaccine - maybe a little soreness in the arm, you might get a little goose egg … pretty standard. You can treat that with Tylenol or Ibuprofen or a cold pack or a warm compress very easily. The second dose tends to have a few more side effects, because you've already activated the immune system with the first shot. With the second dose your symptoms or your side effects can be a little more impactful. It can be everything from headache, body aches, fever chills, kind of a flu like presenting symptoms. Again, staying hydrated and staying on Tylenol and Ibuprofen after the second shot is very helpful as well.”

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.

UCHealth is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family