As the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic nears, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies across the Denver metro Area continue to provide vaccines to residents, hoping it will be the beginning of the …
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As the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic nears, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies across the Denver metro Area continue to provide vaccines to residents, hoping it will be the beginning of the end.
As Highlands Ranch resident Diane Basile, 69, received her vaccine at a clinic hosted at the UCHealth Hospital in Highlands Ranch last week, she said it was “the best day ever so far in 2021.”
Centennial resident Peter Kushar, 65, also received the first round of the Pfizer vaccine at the clinic.
Both Basile and Kushar agreed that the road to finding and getting a vaccine was not easy. Kushar compared the process to the "Hunger Games."
Kushar said he regularly visited, and signed up on, 14 websites in hopes of getting a call back to get the vaccine.
“From a health standpoint, getting this shot is critical,” he said. “We have to get to a point of herd immunity and these vaccines will help get us there.”
Basile estimated that she spent about two hours a day for weeks trying to find a clinic. She said she even started guessing schedules and delivery times, staying up until midnight some nights to sign up for the Walmart clinics. In signing up for one Walmart clinic, Basile said she thought she was set, only to find out that due to extreme winter weather across the country the big-box store did not get its shipment as planned.
“I just kept trying. This vaccine is extremely important,” Basile said. “We have all got to get this vaccine. If we don't get to a point of herd immunity, we don't get back on track.”
Basile and Kushar said once they found the sign-up process at UCHealth, things went more smoothly. They got signed up, and received a call. Once patients are approved, UCHealth automatically schedules them for the second round that is required for the vaccine to be effective.
“I could just get up and dance,” Basile said. “The system could be better. It may have been better federally instead of each state doing it. But I'm glad the government has provided this to us.”
Basile said the last year was tough. Since retiring, Basile said she likes to travel a lot. In 2020 and 2021, she has already canceled planned trips to China and Australia.
With the vaccine, Basile said she is looking forward to the days of traveling again, and feeling safe.
Kushar said he thinks he will breathe a sigh of relief around April 1 when he is slated for the second Pfizer shot. While he said he handled the restrictions and shutdowns OK, one of the hardest things for him during the pandemic was not being able to attend his sister-in-law's funeral.
More than 24 hours after the shot, Kushar said he had minor side effects, including feeling really tired and feeling soreness in his arm.
Dr. Lisa Wynn, OB/GYN and service line chief for women's services at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital, said she participated in the Madera vaccine trial, which turned out to give her a placebo, requiring her to get the real vaccine later.
Wynn said while the first round didn't have any real side effects, the second round made her tired and sore, with chills.
“That second round really packs a bit of a punch,” she said. “I was definitely alternating between Advil and Tylenol for several hours. I would recommend that people getting the second shot plan to be out the following day.”
Wynn said as she has worked with colleagues and patients, it doesn't seem to matter which vaccine they receive, the second round hits people harder. She said it is especially true for younger people.
Wynn said besides getting the vaccine to continue serving her patients, she had personal reasons for getting vaccinated.
In her family, Wynn said there is a renewed sense of hope. She said she can see her family and know it is safe.
For those with anxiety and those thinking about not getting the COVID vaccine at all, Wynn said the only way out of the pandemic is through “science, vaccines and hard work.”
UCHealth vaccinated 500 residents last week. On a larger scale, they have vaccinated more than 215,000 residents throughout the Denver metro area to date.
UCHealth currently has about 90,000 scheduled appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks.
To get a vaccine through UCHealth, spokesperson Paula Freund said residents do not have to be registered patients. Anyone can get vaccines through the UCHealth clinics. For more information, visit uchealth.org/covidvaccine.
To learn about other vaccination clinics and providers, visit the Colorado vaccine provider list at covid19.colorado.gov/for-coloradans/vaccine/where-can-i-get-vaccinated.
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