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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of Wednesday, December 23rd, one million Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine. In Colorado, as of Thursday morning, Dec. 24, UCHealth had vaccinated about 17,600 employees.
This week I had a chance to speak with two healthcare providers who have received their vaccine - about what it was like, and how they have been feeling since.
On Wednesday, Dec. 23rd, Jeremy Hulsker, a charge nurse in the emergency department at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, told me about being the first UCHealth employee in southern Colorado to be vaccinated. He received his vaccination just after 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 14.
Jeremy says, “I'm sure there were hundreds here and thousands of employees throughout the state that would've happily stepped up and received the first shot, but it was an honor to be the first one here in Colorado Springs.”
On Monday, Dec. 21st, I spoke with Dr. Luke Webb, MD with Asthma & Allergy Associates in Colorado Springs. Dr. Webb told me he was vaccinated late last week. “I got it a couple of days ago and I had nothing more than just a little bit of soreness in my arm that was actually gone two days later.”
Jeremy says that other than all the attention, “Minus all the cameras being there - it was like any other vaccination I have ever had. There was no pain; it was a really small shot. My arm was a little sore the next day, which is normal at the injection site, but I had no other side effects whatsoever.”
Dr. Webb says the clinical trials for these vaccines show they are safe. “It’s estimated less than half of a percent of people in clinical trials with this vaccine had any sort of significant reaction to the vaccine, whether it was allergic, or non-allergic but serious side effects. So, we know a small percentage of people are going to have some sort of issue with a vaccine and that's why we need to be carefully monitoring for any of these circumstances, and they need to be investigated. Precautions are being taken to make sure they were prepared if someone were to have an allergic reaction. That's why everybody needs to wait at least 15 minutes after they get the vaccine, and the vaccine needs to be administered in a setting where they can treat an allergic reaction if one occurs.”
Jeremy says while we are far from the end of this pandemic, in the time since the vaccines have been introduced there is new hope on the frontlines. "Absolutely this has helped with employee morale. On Monday (Dec. 14) I was seeing so many smiles and people looked relaxed, there were tears of joy from physicians and healthcare workers.”
Jeremy also understands why there are many people who have concerns about these new vaccines, and he hopes that his willingness and the willingness of his fellow healthcare professionals to lead by example will help ease some of those concerns. “I think the biggest thing for people out there that are hesitant about this vaccine is new is that it's completely normal. I can tell you as healthcare workers there was hesitancy, and we have discussed this for months; this isn’t something we just decided to start talking about in the last week or two. We have been doing our own research and I hope it comforts people out there that so many healthcare workers have received this.”
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