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UCHealth doctor one of the first in line to get COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Ben Usatch has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began, coming into contact with people who have the virus nearly every day

COLORADO, USA — If you ask Dr. Ben Usatch how many COVID-19 patients he’s treated in the past nine months, the answer is too many to count.

And now after months of only protective clothing and masks to protect himself while treating COVID-19 patients, Usatch will get in line as one of the first in Colorado to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

"I consider it a privilege to be a doctor. I’ve always considered it a privilege to be an emergency medicine doctor," Usatch said. "I am going to be one of the tips of the spear, one of the first people to step in to help generate this herd immunity which is so important to us to get a grip on this terrible disease."

Usatch is the medical director of the Emergency Department at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital. He’s on the frontlines of fighting the virus every single day.

"I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve never seen anything quite like it," he said. "The really sick ones come into the emergency department and in my heart, I know that this may be the last time they’re going to see their loved one because they may end up on a ventilator up in the ICU."

His job treating COVID-19 patients every day puts him at the front of the line for receiving the vaccine. He said he expects to get his first shot within the next 10 days.

The state has released a timeline for when people can expect to get the vaccine. High-risk healthcare workers and individuals will get the first doses. The general public can expect to have access to it in the summer of next year.

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"Knowing that there’s an answer in sight, really just keeps us all so enthusiastic," Usatch said. "I feel very good and very safe that this is the right thing to do."

For months he’s come face to face with a deadly virus so that those infected had a chance at recovery. Now a vaccine will help him stay safe while helping others.

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