Christmas came a few days early for Dennis Bradberry, a respiratory therapist at Brighton's Platte Valley Medical Center, and the rest of his hospital colleagues in the form of sore arms, a bright …
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Christmas came a few days early for Dennis Bradberry, a respiratory therapist at Brighton's Platte Valley Medical Center, and the rest of his hospital colleagues in the form of sore arms, a bright orange sticker and a growing immunity to the COVID-19 virus.
“Everybody is saying `My arm is sore,' but it's worth it,” Bradberry said. “When you've seen what we see all day, every day, it's totally worth it.”
Bradberry received his vaccine Dec. 23, the second day of COVID-19 vaccines at the hospital. Caitlyn Major, communications manager for the hospital, said they set up a room to bring in all 900 hospital associates, get them screened and vaccinated.
Once they get their shots, each associate is monitored for 15 minutes to check for allergic reactions and then sent on their way.
They must return for a second shot after 28 days to reach full immunity.
But rather than just sitting around, the hospital's post-vaccination waiting area has a celebratory feeling, as associates talk, eat candy and share stories.
For Broadberry, it's easy to understand why the employees are excited to have the vaccines. A respiratory therapist in critical care, he's been treating COVID1-9 patients since March.
“That's what's awesome about this today,” Bradberry said. “This is the first step towards ending this. And rather than just having us at the hospital being the ones dealing with everything, this gives every individual person the ability to help us out.”
Platte Valley is receiving the second vaccine to be released in the United States, manufactured by biotech company Moderna. The first vials reached the Brighton hospital Dec. 22 in the afternoon. Staff were set up to begin injecting staff in two hours and they had given the vaccine to 99 people by the end of the day.
“It won't take us very long,” John Hicks, president and CEO of Platte Valley, said. “I think, a little after Christmas and we'll have the majority of employees and medical staff vaccinated.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health is working out the next stages of vaccination, which would include seniors living in group situations, police, fire and other first responders. Hicks said he does not know what those next stages will look like, but said he'd be pleased to have Platte Valley involved.
Both vaccines rely on attaching genetic information to a protein. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer made the first vaccine released in the U.S. and the protein it uses requires it be kept in ultracold conditions, about 94 degrees below zero. That requires special cold equipment and room for storage. And once vials are thawed for use, they must be used within two hours.
“Moderna uses a different protein,” he said. “It took them a little longer to work with it, but it's much more stable. We can keep it in a freezer, just a regular freezer.”
The vaccine has a much longer life once it's been thawed, of about six hours. He expects to see the Moderna vaccine being made available in rural areas and at neighborhood shops when it's publicly available.
Hicks noted that all of his employees will be walking around with sore arms from the vaccination. That's a good thing, Hicks said.
“That's how you know it's working,” he said. “You want that reaction, to some extent. You want your immune system to recognize that it's been injected with something that's not quite right and begin building defenses. That how vaccines work and the pain you get shows that it's doing the jobs.
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