Covid-19 Vaccine Update January 21, 2021 : Covid-19
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Highlands Health for Life Family Medicine Clinic
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Highlands Health for Life Family Medicine Clinic 4104 Tejon St, Denver, CO 80211

Covid-19 Vaccine Update January 21, 2021

by Whitney Kennedy on 01/21/21

At the end of yesterday, January 20, 2021, Colorado had recorded 379,227 cases of Covid-19 infections.  We have lost 4,579 Coloradoans to this terrible virus. Currently, we have 827 patients admitted to Colorado hospitals for Covid-19 and 33% of our total number of ventilators in Colorado are in use.  Believe it or not, Colorado has done quite well recently in terms of hospital usage.  In early December it was very scary with 23% of all of the Colorado hospital beds occupied by patients with Covid-19 and 55% of all ventilators in Colorado in use.  To put this into perspective, we generally think that most hospitals run at about 80% bed capacity with the regular everyday things which require hospitalization.  When you add the usual 80% bed usage + 23% Covid-19 patient bed usage, it gets disturbingly close to 100%.   At 100% we worry that those with heart attacks or broken legs or any number of terrible things will not have good access to care. Field hospitals can be activated but they require some lead-in time and certainly do not offer the same level of care as a normally staffed hospital.  Currently, 1 in 5 Coloradoans are considered contagious.  Think about the number of people you are exposed to everyday. 


Therefore, it is all of our responsibilities to make sure that we stay safe and help those around us stay safe.  Wearing masks is about respect for other people and yourself.  I wear my mask to protect you and you wear your mask to protect me. It only works if we are all in it together.  Beyond that, trying to distance ourselves from those whom we do not live with and making sure to wash our hands and not touch our eyes is helpful.


Colorado is actively working to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.  There is a lot of frustration about the slowness in getting vaccinations, but the limitation is solely based on the number of doses that are delivered from the federal government every week. Colorado is in the top 10 states for getting doses to people as fast as possible.  No doses are held back. This week we have gotten a bonus of 40,000 doses on top of the 70,000 doses we normally expect in a week.  By the end of the weekend, 1 in 5--- 70+ year-olds should have their first dose.  Unfortunately, that means that 4 in 5 will not. Over the next 5-6 weeks the goal is to make sure that 70% of the age group 70+ gets covered.


If you would like to get the most up-to-date information about vaccine distribution, follow Governor Polis’ press conferences every Tuesday and Friday around noon.  Here is a link to his most recent press conference:



How can you sign-up to get vaccinated:



1.     Currently community members who are 70 years old or older are eligible for vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccine. Although the CDC released recommendations to vaccinate people age 65yo and above, the CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) has determined that the vaccine supply is not great enough to vaccinate the 65+ age group at this time and are continuing to vaccinate people 70 years old and older only.

2.     Both Kaiser Permanente and the University of Colorado hospital systems have started vaccinating community members over 69yo, regardless of prior patient relationship with that hospital system. Patients need to create a portal at the links below and they will be contacted when their tier becomes available, based on supply. Denver Health, SCL and Centura also have portals available and patients who have been seen at these hospital systems recently may sign up for their wait lists as well.  If you need assistance getting signed up for a portal please let us know.



Kaiser Permanente:

Denver Health:




Should I get vaccinated?------------The short answer is absolutely YES.

The only absolute contraindication is severe allergic reaction/anaphylaxis after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components, or immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate.  Most people would know if they were allergic to polysorbate because it is in many foods and cosmetics.


Several of us at the clinic have already completed the 2-dose series with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.  The most common side effect after the first vaccination was a sore arm for 1-2 days, similar to getting your tetanus shot.  The reactions after the 2nd booster shot tend to be a little more than the first one. Dr. Kennedy felt a little more tired for 2 days then fine. The idea is that you build a small army of antibodies after the first vaccination.  When that first army sees the “invader” (a protein that sits on the outside of the virus capsule)  they have been trained to attack, they make a larger more lasting army. If you have had Covid-19 infection in the past, you may see a more robust response after the first dose similar to the second dose in someone who has never been infected.   If you have had Covid-19 infection in the past, it is still recommended that you get the 2-dose vaccine.  My take on symptoms that you get after a vaccine, is that they are simply proof that your immune system if doing its job.  A couple of days of a little discomfort may save your life and eventually will allow us to get back to the days before “pandemic” was a realistic nightmare.


After you are fully vaccinated, we still have to be careful around others.  Currently, we are not sure whether fully vaccinated people are still able to carry the virus (without getting sick) and passing it on to others who have not been vaccinated. As more research is completed, we will have more information.


I will be continuing to update this blog so that you have the most up-to-date information.




Whitney Kennedy, M.D.



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