UC Davis Health is now offering vaccinations to some patients 75 and older and hopes to expand to more priority groups soon
On Jan. 12, UC Davis Health began vaccinating patients less than a month after they first administered shots to their healthcare workers. UC Davis Health has been on the faster side of administering vaccines, vaccinating 12,000 employees and 400 patients as of Jan. 15 according to Steve Telliano, their assistant vice chancellor of strategic communications.
“[Jan 14] will be the one month anniversary of receiving our first vaccines,” Telliano said. “We have done 12,000 employees in the month since we’ve received vaccines, and that’s the schedule which we expected to be on. It’s pretty aggressive and our vaccine clinic was open 16 hours a day to make that happen.”
Even though much of the vaccine that has been distributed is still waiting to be used due to slow rollouts by individual hospitals across the country, UC Davis Health is having the opposite problem. Telliano said that what they need is more doses.
“Our plan is to further expand in terms of locations when we get more vaccine doses,” Telliano said. “Really, what’s limiting us at this point is the number of doses of vaccine that we have. If we get more, then we’ll be able to open more locations and do more patients.”
As of now, only patients over 75 with certain existing comorbidities are eligible for the vaccine. According to a press release put out by UC Davis this week, these prioritized patients are ones who have heart disorders, sickle cell disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis or a history of cancer or strokes.
Soon, the center hopes to expand to all patients over 75 and patients over 65 when they receive more doses and are able to open more vaccination sites. Telliano is hopeful that once they are able to vaccinate these at-risk groups, they will be able to drastically reduce the number of COVID-19 deaths.
“What we do know for certain is that the more people we vaccinate, the more illnesses we prevent,” Telliano said. “Especially if we start vaccinating down to 65 and older, we will be able to prevent the majority of the deaths that have happened. Almost three out of four deaths from COVID-19 have been people 65 and older, so if we can really move quickly and vaccinate that group quickly, we can really head off the deaths from COVID-19.”
He also shared that students who have UC Davis Health coverage will be able to receive their vaccination through the center when their tier is eligible. Dr. Cindy Schorzman, who is in charge of co-leading the COVID-19 UC Davis campus vaccination, said that other students at UC Davis will also be eligible to get the vaccine through UC Davis’ Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS).
“We will offer vaccinations to all registered students when [they are] allowed by public health guidelines based on this tiered approach and subject to vaccine availability,” Schorzman said. “Student employees will be eligible at the same tier as other campus employees when essential on-campus personnel become eligible.”
Telliano said that the reason UC Davis has been so successful in getting vaccinations out quickly is because of the nature of the health center.
“This is what UC Davis does,” Telliano said. “Our role in the healthcare system as UC Davis is to be disaster and emergency response experts. We have the ability to address emergencies and disasters because that’s what we plan to do.”
Telliano explained that as the pandemic progressed, the center created similar action plans for eventually getting vaccinations.
“We knew vaccines would be coming because that’s how the pandemic would end, and we’ve known for a long time there would be vaccines and we would need to move quickly to administer those vaccines,” Telliano said. “So we’ve been planning for months how we would do this and do it safely so when the vaccines arrive we would be ready to go.”
Tellianio explained that UC Davis Health is making vaccination such a priority because vaccination is imperative to ending the pandemic.
“In a global sense, the way that we’re going to stop this pandemic is to get everyone vaccinated,” Telliano said. “The sooner the better because the sooner we get everyone vaccinated, the sooner we’re going to end this pandemic.”
Given that vaccination is key in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and ending the pandemic, Telliano urged everyone to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. For people worried about taking the vaccine, Telliano explained that the vaccine’s safety has been thoroughly tested.
“It’s very well researched,” Telliano said. “In fact, it was researched here at UC Davis […] and we’ve also taken it ourselves. Healthcare providers, and the healthcare workers who will be providing the vaccine, have taken it themselves so that they can show that it’s safe, but also so that they can be well to assist patients.”
He also said that the hospital itself is a form of “proof” that the vaccine works to prevent infection. Since the center began vaccinating last month, the weekly number of employees being out of work with COVID-19 each week has decreased by over 50%. Telliano said that he expects the number to drop even further in the coming weeks as the healthcare workers receive their second dose of the vaccine and become fully protected.
Telliano said that since the vaccine rollout began, many healthcare workers are beginning to feel hopeful that the end of the pandemic is in sight.
“The healthcare workforce and people that I’ve talked to that are coming out of the vaccine clinic are just incredibly happy that this is now available,” Telliano said. “Both from a personal standpoint, in that they know it’s extremely unlikely that they will be spreading the disease […], but also that we’re nearing the end of this pandemic, because as we all know it has been terribly depressing. To see that we are beginning the end chapter of this pandemic has been really great and has reinvigorated a number of our healthcare workers.”
Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — firstname.lastname@example.org