Colorado man on COVID-Vaccine: ‘It is necessary to stop this plague’

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 6:15 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The state now says people over the age of 70 are moving up in priority it when it comes to getting COVID-19 vaccines.

But a few seniors are already able to get vaccinated under a limited pilot program at UCHealth.

Don Needham is one of the lucky people who was selected. He told 11 News he didn’t hesitate when he found out he could be able to get the vaccine.

He said he hopes sharing his experience will ease any potential worries people might have, and help bring the country together. He adds he first found out he could be eligible when he saw it on 11 News.

“I jumped on that and set up an appointment for just the next day and got my shot yesterday,” Needham explained.

Needham said he logged onto his UCHealth patient portal and got the notification. He and his wife are both older than 75--just old enough to make the cut.

But for Needham, being eligible to get the vaccine wasn’t just a welcome surprise--it was a personal one. His best friend for seven decades died only last week of COVID-19. Needham is a pastor and he’s now planning a virtual memorial for his friend.

“It’s very painful when you see friends--and he would not have died if COVID had not come along,” Needham explained. “He probably would have lived another 20 years, he was in such great physical shape.”

Needham checks the death toll from COVID daily and each death sticks with him. He updates a sign outside his home as a way to honor those who have passed. He replaces it every 5,000 deaths, which used to be weekly or even bi-weekly, but now it’s almost daily.

“We went from 5,000 who have died to now 345,000 and it kind of solemnly shows how many Americans we have really lost because of COVID.”

It’s his way of making a seemingly immeasurable loss somewhat calculable. He’s leading by example, hoping his choice to get the vaccine will show it’s the path to a more normal life and more importantly, fewer deaths.

“If people are successfully taking it--go ahead and get it,” Needham said. “Because it is necessary to stop this plague that is destroying the homes, finances, the lives of so many people.”

The two are scheduled to get their next dose of the vaccine in 27 days. They say they hope to go back to traveling and serving others as soon as possible.

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