COVID-19 Vaccine

Distributing a COVID-19 vaccine during these unprecedented times requires a large scale effort by state, local, and private sector partners. Colorado received its first shipment of vaccines in mid-December and has a robust group of experts working on a distribution process that is swift, fair, and efficient. 

The decision to get vaccinated protects more than just an individual’s health. It can also help protect coworkers, residents, families, and communities. Vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. As a resource for all individuals we are organizing and communicating a number of informational vaccine sessions including town halls, office hours and webinars.


Office Hour FAQ'S

There were a number of reasons why the vaccine was able to be approved so quickly:

  1. Messenger RNA vaccines have been tried for almost 20 years, but this was the first time (due to some significant improvements in the way this vaccine is being made) that it actually worked as well as or better than the alternatives. Because of the way it is made, it is able to skip the first several time consuming steps that have been used for nearly 100 years to make vaccines. Sort of like the way WiFi allowed rapid transmission of signals to computers instead of the old way where you plugged your computer into a phone line and had to wait hours to download a Megabyte of information. This type of vaccine just needs to know the genetic code for the little tiny piece of the virus that codes for making Spike Proteins.
  2. It normally takes many months to accurately identify a virus' genetic code. Because the whole world was working on it all at once, it only took about 6 weeks to clearly do this with COVID-19.
  3. Everything Covid was given an EUA or Emergency Use Authorization.  This is another way of saying that everything related to Covid goes immediately to the front of the line for review and consideration.  Normally, new vaccines wait in line once data is submitted for many months before the experts who will review it get around to doing so. Even then, they may take more months to go over it as time allows instead of immediately giving it their undivided attention.
  4. For the first time ever, governments around the world paid for manufacture of the vaccine as soon as they applied to have it approved for research.  That way, they could immediately start making vaccine (ie, last April or May). If the vaccine failed in the trials, all those millions of doses would be discarded, but the company would not lose all the funding to pay for them as the governments had already paid for them. If, instead, the vaccine worked (as these first two did), they already have 50-75,000,000 doses made and ready for use. This step alone cut 8-12 months off of the normal process.
  5. The vaccine did not skip ANY steps in the approval process and were required to meet exactly the same efficacy and safety standards that have been applied to all vaccines for decades. In fact, these first two vaccines appear to be FAR more effective than almost any other vaccines and are as or more safe than any others made from what we have seen so far.

In order to trigger an immune response, every vaccine has to give your body a picture of the outside of the virus that could be seen by your immune system. Think of it as the fingerprint of the virus.  In that regard, the fingerprint of influenza is unique and different than COVID.The part of the virus that causes disease are the RNA segments on the inside which are killed and discarded with influenza and the non-Messenger RNA COVID vaccines. Since there is never any intact, live, whole RNA from either, neither has even a theoretical way they could cause influenza or COVID-19. Messenger RNA only uses genetic coding for the Spike Proteins on the outside of the virus, so going back to our example, this is a way of showing your immune system the virus' fingerprint. In the same way that a fingerprint can't digest food or pump blood, the Spike Protein on the outside of the virus can't get into the nucleus of a cell or cause disease.

Combining data from the first 2 very similar vaccines, about 67,000 people were studied, half of whom received vaccine and half of whom received saline as a placebo. Neither the volunteer subjects nor the researchers knew who received which. The efficacy of the vaccine was measured by tracking how many people in each group got symptomatic and secondarily, how many got severe Covid or died.  
In the placebo half, there were about 350 people who got symptomatic Covid, 39 who were categorized as severe, and 1 who died. In the half who received vaccine, only 19 got symptomatic Covid, 1 got severe disease and none died. The comparison of 350 to 19 is where they came up with 95% efficacy.

It is possible, but highly unlikely.  Once you are 1 week past the second dose of a messenger RNA vaccine or 2 weeks past some of the later vaccines that may be approved that were made in the traditional way, 95-99% of people should not get symptomatic COVID-19. Of course, people are still at risk for COVID-19 after their first dose of vaccine and until their immune system kicks in to its maximum level of protection.

It is hard to understand where this rumor came from, but there is nothing in the process of researching or making any of these vaccines that calls for use of an aborted or post mortem fetus. This sounds like an emotionally-charged attempt by an anti-vaccine contingent trying to stir up fear, anger and hysteria - things that our world simply does not need at a time when truth and integrity should triumph.

Not related to the vaccine.

How does it work?
Why is it important?
Why haven’t all vaccines utilized mRNA?
Can it alter my DNA?
How is it excreted? May I still donate or receive blood after receiving the vaccines?

Inside your cells there is a nucleus where your DNA resides. Outside the nucleus is the cytoplasm which has multiple different components. One of those is the ribosome, the place where genetic instructions are sent to build proteins from basic building blocks available in the cytoplasm. Messenger RNA is a tiny piece of RNA that only codes for the Spike Protein. It is wrapped like a sandwich inside a lipid layer. Since cell surfaces are made of lipids, this allows this piece of RNA to get inside a muscle cell. Once there, it goes directly to the ribosome (none of it gets into the nucleus where your DNA is) where it gets the cell to start makes lots and lots of copies of Spike Proteins. These migrate to the surface of the cell, get out and are then recognized by your immune system. This starts the process of making antibodies and a complex system of cells that memorize exactly what these proteins look like so they can kick your immune system into high gear if they ever see them again, such as when you are actually exposed to Covid.
Although just a guess, because Messenger RNA vaccines are so much easier to make now and appear to be working as well as or better than "traditional" vaccines, it is likely that these will be the cornerstone of future vaccines. Sort of like moving from cassette tapes to VHS to DVDs to digital recordings of music.
Since it never gets near your DNA, it cannot alter it or even be incorporated into your DNA like viruses do when you get the real disease (viruses inject large RNA segments into cells that go to the nucleus, insert themselves into your DNA and trick your cells into making copies of the entire virus). The Messenger RNA vaccines only get as far as the ribosome...
After a period of time, the ribosome simply quits making Spike Proteins and moves on to making other proteins as directed by your DNA. The tiny fragments are broken down by other components of the cytoplasm and removed.
You may still donate or receive blood after a vaccine.

Immediately, though we would suggest waiting 2-3 days so there is no confusion about which one may have caused your arm to be tender or you to have a low-grade fever for 1-2 days.

About 10-15% of people have some side effect or some combination. The 'side effects' are actually what we hope would happen after a vaccine and represent your immune system busily at work. The most common would be a low-grade fever, muscle aches, headache, fatigue or soreness where you got the vaccine. These last 1-2 days and most respond favorably to use of NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, Motrin, Aleve...
If your immune system is doing its job correctly, side effects after the second dose should be a bit worse than after the first dose since your immune system is already revved up to recognize the spike proteins and attack them quickly. 

Your provider or whoever gave you the vaccine. They will report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the agency that tracks and potentially investigates possible vaccine reactions.

The timing is important because that is what the research showed to be the ideal time for attaining the best response. Not following it exactly does not mean it won't work or even work well, it is just less likely to work as well as it possibly could.

There are 2 shots of the Messenger RNA vaccines and probably just 1 for vaccines made in the traditional manner. The reason for 2 doses is that the early trials (Phase 1/2) showed that 1 dose led to good immunity, but 2 spaced apart the way that they are led to great immune responses. For the vaccines being made in the 'traditional' manner, it appears that there is 75-90% efficacy with just one dose, so there is not a lot of room to improve by giving a second dose.

No. In fact they do not get paid anything at all for giving vaccines. The financial incentive is that those vaccinated will be FAR, FAR less likely to get COVID-19 and therefore are much, more likely to keep living  or living without major medical problems. This keeps people alive and able to pay the facility to continue to care for them.

No. These are exactly the groups that need the vaccine early, as they are the most likely to die from COVID-19, along with smokers, and those with lung disease, heart disease, and cancer.

Not necessarily, though these agents may interfere with your body's ability to mount a good immune response. It is worth talking to the oncologist or hematologist to get their opinion and/or see if there is a best window of opportunity to get the vaccine (ie, between rounds of chemo).


Absolutely. Although there is not a 'formal' recommendation one way or the other, it is clear that a pregnant woman who gets COVID-19 is far more likely to have complications, lose the baby or have her own health problems than any likely or potential side effect from the vaccine.  There were pregnant women in the Pfizer and Moderna trials and none of them had severe or notable complications.  For influenza, pregnant women are probably the single highest priority group to vaccinate since the embryo and infant have no immunity other than that provided by the mom until their immune system matures at about 18 months.

There has been NOTHING like this demonstrated with the vaccine thus far and it is highly, highly unlikely that anything like this will ever occur. This is not how your immune system works and the only thing you are making is antibody to a tiny piece of protein on the outside of the COVID-19 virus that does not look anything like any cells in your body.  

For now, yes. First, it will still be regulated to do so. Second, even after vaccinated, it is possible that you could be exposed and could be contagious for 1-3 days until your immune system can kick into high gear and eliminate the COVD-19 virus you inhaled.

Yes, but hopefully not for long. Many are waiting for CMS or the CDC to update their guidance and will monitor guidelines closely as the vaccine is distributed.

It is apparently a good idea. There were a small percentage of persons in the trials who the investigators determined (by testing for antibodies, etc after they were enrolled) had previously had COVID-19. When comparing the people just in this group who got vaccine verses placebo, the vaccine group did better. In simple terms, it provides another small improvement in your immune memory.