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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The dean of the UC Davis Medical School discusses the vaccination rollout, patient care

UC Davis is currently vaccinating patients 65 and older. To find out when they are eligible, patients can register for an account with MyUCDavisHealth

Having only worked at UC Davis for six months before the outbreak of COVID-19, Dr. Allison Brashear, the dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, said that partnering with the UC Davis campus has been crucial when adjusting to the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic. On March 2, 2020, Brashear met with over 25 researchers and clinicians to discuss pandemic operations.

“We had a call to action on March 2, with the campus and the School of Medicine on what are we going to do about the pandemic, clinical trials, developing, testing [and] improving patient care,” Brashear said. “And everybody jumped in with both feet in terms of getting research approved and moving forward developing testing and really working as one team.”

Before coming to UC Davis, Brashear worked as the chair of the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest University for 15 years. Now, as the dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, she said that her role has evolved during the pandemic to focus on strategy and operations. She has also participated in new initiatives such as a Dean’s Call and a Deans Discuss Podcast in collaboration with the School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Beginning on March 2, we developed a daily Dean’s Call which we did for almost two months,” Brashear said. “We still have those Dean’s Calls twice a week, where we actually real-time problem-solve issues about surge testing [or] vaccinations.”

Less than two weeks after the meeting in early March, UC Davis Health developed its own internal rapid testing system where tests were run through an onsite machine instead of outsourced to a lab. The university also pioneered the saliva test on Nov. 10, 2020, and initiated clinical trials relating to the vaccine, the most recent in late Dec. 2020

According to Brashear, she is most proud of UC Davis’ adaptability and swift development of testing and clinical trials.

“I’m particularly proud of the inclusion of research in our day-to-day clinical care,” Brashear said. “That goes from standing up a test in the middle of March to bringing clinical trials in record time to our patients at the bedside and in the clinics.”

Since the development of different varieties of COVID-19 vaccines, UC Davis has administered over 40,000 vaccines in total and is currently vaccinating patients 65 and older.

As the vaccination rollout continues, Brashear said that she hopes for other vaccines to be approved in the near future to allow for more widespread vaccination.

“There have been some challenges about the vaccine rollout,” Brashear said. “We are looking forward to additional vaccines being approved, including AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. In general, one of the challenges has been lots of people that want the vaccine but not enough providers to deliver the vaccine.” 

According to her, UC Davis has thus far been a model in safety and in vaccination of its frontline healthcare workers.

“Our goal is to really vaccinate our health care workers so that we can make sure that they are all safe,” Brashear said. “Our frontline workers are a priority. About 82% of our [health care workers] have been vaccinated with at least one shot.” 

Brashear stated that she is grateful overall for the work UC Davis Health has been able to accomplish, bolstered by a partnership with the campus.

“I’m really proud of the collaboration with main campus to really improve [the] health of our patients at UC Davis Health but also to move science forward,” Brashear said. “It’s really been a team effort over the last 10 months.”

To find more information about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, patients can create an account with MyUCDavisHealth. Patients will be notified when they are eligible to be vaccinated.

Written by: Sophie Dewees — features@theaggie.org

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