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COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Robert VissersBoulder Community Health (BCH) provided an email update on Saturday, Dec. 19 to community members. President & CEO Rob Vissers, M.D. reported on the limited details we have regarding COVID-19 vaccines for the public and our patients and how everyone can do their part to stay safe this holiday season.

BCH received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine last week, and we will receive the Moderna vaccine this week. At this point, we still don’t know how much vaccine we will receive in future shipments from the two companies, so it’s impossible to estimate how long it will take to vaccinate our community.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State authorities mandates that health systems initially focus on vaccinating their own employees. That approach is designed to keep doctors, nurses and other vital clinical staff healthy so they are available to care for patients sick with COVID-19 and other illnesses and injuries. We started vaccinating BCH employees on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

We will continue to update the community on vaccine availability as more information becomes available.

Hanukkah celebrations have just been completed and we’re days away from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. These year-end holidays are traditionally a time to gather with family and friends. However, this year we need to be extremely cautious and develop a different approach to our celebrations.

The arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in our community does not mean we can stop the personal behaviors that have been so successful in bending the pandemic curve. We need to continue masking, social distancing and the other important actions that minimize personal exposure to COVID-19.

Our recommendation is to celebrate your holidays at home with those in your immediate household. Consider “seeing” your extended family and friends over video feeds like Zoom or similar technologies.

If you must see people in person, we recommend being outdoors, distanced by at least six feet, masked at all times, and not eating together. If you remove your mask or others remove theirs, it puts you at high risk for disease transmission. Sharing a meal with people outside your household is a recipe for unintentional harm.

You may find this link to CDC advice on celebrating winter holidays helpful.

The BCH infectious diseases specialists also want to share some harm-reduction information to help you, your loved ones and our entire community stay safe:

Does a negative COVID test mean we are safe?

No. The current rates of disease in the community put people at risk because they could be incubating the virus or have a false negative test.

Is traveling for the holidays safe?

We recommend against traveling to visit extended family and friends or for vacation over the holidays. Staying home now keeps your family safe so they can enjoy travel in the future.

Can I safely remove my mask for a meal?

No. Without everyone undergoing proper quarantine before a gathering, we would advocate for wearing a mask at all the times when within six feet of others. Eating outdoors is safer but still risky unless truly distanced.

Does taking temperatures or checking for symptoms provide sufficient safety?

No. Almost 40% of those who are infected have no symptoms and this is more common with younger age groups.

If we all act prudently this holiday season, we’re paving the way for less-stressful and more traditional family celebrations in the future. Help us keep our community safe by wearing your mask, social distancing and staying home.

All of us at BCH wish you healthy and safe holidays.