You may have heard confusion centered on the distribution of two recently approved COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. With many older Americans eager to receive their vaccinations, busy websites and phone lines are making it difficult for seniors to schedule appointments for the vaccine. If you have been having issues securing your spot in line for the COVID-19 vaccine, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment offers state residents a helpful webpage dedicated to informing the public about updates on the rollout of the vaccine for Coloradans.
Existing residents of Bethesda Gardens in Monument, CO, can also talk to the staff about vaccines and plans for distribution. If you're curious about vaccine rollouts in the Centennial State, check out some of the information and resources below.
Colorado is currently in phase 1A & 1B of its distribution of the vaccines. 1A prioritizes high-risk healthcare workers, older adults living in assisted living communities and certain other locations and those in recent contact with a positive case. Group 1B includes all seniors age 70 or older and lower-risk healthcare workers, among others.
Most residents of Bethesda Gardens Monument, CO, fit these requirements and should be able to schedule their appointment to get access to the vaccine right away. For immediate help with questions regarding the vaccine, call 2-1-1 Colorado at (866) 760-6489.
As for the vaccine itself, the safety of the dosage is on many senior's minds. Vaccines for an infectious virus like COVID-19 usually introduce a weakened form of the virus through medical injection — or in the case of COVID-19, two injections. This generally results in the virus not being able to reproduce enough to create or sustain the illness if you are exposed.
If enough of the general public were to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the population could gain overall immunity from the virus and slow its spread over the next few months. This is a medical strategy that's proven against diseases like measles and chickenpox.
Before you receive your vaccine, it's recommended that you consult your primary care physician to assess your individual risk for the COVID-19 vaccination. The CDC and other organizations state that the vaccine is statistically less risky than getting sick from the virus, but side effects and allergic reactions, though rare, have been recorded. If you're interested in more information about how vaccines work, check out this article.
Many people may be wondering what's taking so long with getting vaccines out to at-risk populations or the general population. Initial delays were mostly logistical issues. The demand was much higher than the supply available (though supplies continue to be made available every week) and the unusually cold temperature the vaccines must be kept at to retain their effectiveness made unusual preparations necessary in many cases. Because so many Americans were and are eligible to get their COVID-19 shot, phone lines and websites to make vaccination appointments can be overwhelmed.
Although this all can seem overwhelming, it's important to be persistent when scheduling your appointment for the COVID vaccine. If you're a senior over the age of 70, you're a priority at this time and have the right to receive your dose as soon as possible. Residents in the Bethesda Gardens community can turn to staff, their own family and their medical providers with any questions. And if you haven't yet made the move to assisted living, you can reach out to loved ones and your medical providers too.
Many set to be vaccinated this winter will receive their shots while at work through their current employers. This poses a challenge to older Americans who are retired and those with limited mobility. There are plans to expand efforts to address these issues with accessibility for older adults, but the Governor previously suggested that those 70+ who aren't part of a community or service that is handling the vaccine for them should contact their primary care doctors for guidance or call the Colorado Health Emergency Line for the Public (COHELP) at 303-389-1687 or 877-462-2911. The cost of the COVID vaccine should be free at most institutions that plan to administer it, although some clinics may charge an injection fee. Those fees are often covered by insurance, including Medicare, so check with your plan.
As you wait for an official confirmation for your vaccine, it's important to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines and good personal hygiene like washing your hands. Even after receiving the vaccine, it's important to continue these types of risk-mitigation efforts. First, it's simply a good idea to always wash your hands and try to keep yourself safe from seasonal flu and other illnesses. Second, it's not clear yet whether the vaccine will prevent people from carrying and spreading COVID-19 or protect you 100% from the virus.