DENVER — Thousands of Coloradans are beginning to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, offering a light at the end of a tunnel for a pandemic that’s gone on for nearly a year and upended life as we knew it.
But, medical experts say the vaccine takes weeks to become fully effective, meaning that some people may contract the disease caused by the novel coronavirus shortly after getting a shot.
This led Gary Salabak to ask:
“If you should not get the vaccine shot if you have COVID-19, is everyone that is getting the shot being tested before getting the shot, because some folks don’t know that they have the virus?”
Do not go to your COVID-19 vaccine appointment if you have symptoms of the virus, including a fever, sudden loss of taste and smell, a cough or difficulty breathing and fatigue. Get a test instead. Otherwise, Colorado providers are not testing people for COVID-19 before their vaccine appointments.
WHAT WE FOUND
9NEWS spoke to Dr. Michelle Barron, the senior medical director of infection prevention and control for UCHealth.
She said that people who are ill should not get the vaccine immediately.
"If you have no symptoms and you're feeling well, and you may or may not have been exposed and you don't know that you have it, then you should still go ahead and get the vaccine and no testing prior is required," she said.
Barron said medical teams are not doing active testing or recommending a test before COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
"No, we are not doing active testing or recommending you get a test, either with an antibody or PCR test, to see if you have it or have had it," she said.
People eligible for a vaccine who are infected with COVID-19 should not get a shot immediately after their isolation period ends. Instead, Barron said they'll have natural protection for 60-90 days, so they can wait a couple of months.
After this window, she said they should get a vaccine.
As for the process behind a shot, Barron said it's as simple as showing up while wearing a mask, getting your arm cleaned and then receiving a vaccine. The main difference between a COVID-19 vaccine and the one for the flu, Barron said, is that doctors monitor people for 15 minutes after the one for the novel coronavirus to ensure they don't have an allergic reaction.
Once this is complete, Barron and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people receive a vaccination card that shows which COVID-19 vaccine they received and when they got the shot.
"Because if you are going to get the second one, you want to get the same brand you got the first time," Barron said.
Vaccines are currently given by appointment only.
Here is a list of resources for finding appointments by provider and more information about what to expect after receiving a vaccine:
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