Colorado’s first COVID-19 vaccine given to Fort Collins health care worker

FORT COLLINS — A frontline medical worker with underlying health conditions received Colorado’s first COVID-19 vaccination shot Monday afternoon, launching a months-long inoculation campaign to inoculate people across the state against the novel coronavirus.

Colorado received its first doses of the vaccine from manufacturer Pfizer earlier in the morning and more shipments will arrive over the next two days. With this initial batch, Colorado will receive enough doses to give 46,800 people their first of the two required shots.

“Who ever thought we’d be excited to see a needle?” Gov. Jared Polis said prior to the first injection at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital.

Employees of the Fort Collins hospital were to be the first Coloradans to receive doses of the vaccine. The first vaccine was slated to go to Kevin Londrigan, a respiratory therapist who has underlying health conditions.

“This has been a long, exhausting time coming,” he said before being inoculated. “The vaccine isn’t the end of it, but it is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Fort Collins hospital was expected to vaccinate 20 health care workers on Monday, with another 20 due to be vaccinated at UCHealth’s Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.

A box containing 975 doses of vaccine arrived at Colorado’s state lab in Denver just after 8 a.m. Monday. It was delivered by a FedEx courier in a thermal container packed with dry ice and then placed into an ultra-cold freezer, where it will be stored until it is distributed to hospitals.

“I’ve been waiting to do this signature for nine months,” said Polis, who greeted the FedEx worker and helped unpack the vaccine before it went into the freezer.

“What this means, this triumph of modern science, is that the end of the pandemic is in sight,” he added later. “This is the beginning of the end.”

The vaccinations began just three days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered an emergency authorization of the shot developed by Pfizer. The company said last month its vaccine is more than 90% effective preventing COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Supply of the vaccine is very limited so only health care workers in close contact with coronavirus patients and those living and working in long-term care facilities will be inoculated in the first phase of the distribution.

State public health officials don’t expect the vaccine to become more widely available until next year, so Coloradans are encouraged to keep wearing masks. Washing their hands and social-distancing.

Polis has also asked hospitals to administer any COVID-19 doses they get within 72 hours. State leaders expect to get 95,600 doses of another vaccine developed by Moderna by next week, once that, too, receives FDA approval.

UCHealth has been preparing for the arrival of the vaccine. Part of the plans have included finding rooms to administer the shots — a feat made trickier by the fact that the rooms need to be large enough for people to follow public health guidelines and stay at least 6 feet apart, Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention, said last week.

UCHealth also has ordered more ultra-cold freezers to help store and redistribute Pfizer’s vaccine.

“We know that we will be the keeper, but it’s not all ours,” Barron said.

UCHealth, in deciding who will receive the initial doses, also has taken into consideration any potential side effects — which can include fever, chills and body aches — that might cause someone to have to call out sick. Hospitals want to avoid a scenario in which multiple workers in a unit are out of work at the same time, Barron said.

One of the challenges the state will face as it rolls out the vaccination campaign is hesitancy from those concerned about the safety of the shots after a such unprecedented and rapid development.

UCHealth has hosted Q&A sessions and town halls to answer workers’ questions and address any concerns about the vaccine. The system also sent out questionnaires to gauge employees’ feelings about the shots and more than 90% of people said they will get the vaccine, Barron said.

“The ultimate goal is… we want to be able to offer it to those again, who are at higher risk of exposure within our system,” Barron said. “To give them that opportunity for an extra level of protection.”

Join our Facebook group for the latest updates on coronavirus in Colorado.

Source: Read Full Article