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UCI Health receives COVID-19 vaccine

First batch of 3,000 being given to frontline healthcare employees

December 16, 2020
Respiratory therapist Vita Susin is the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at UCI Health
Respiratory therapist Vita Susin gets the first COVID-19 vaccination at UCI Health.

Orange, Calif. — UCI Health today received an initial shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine at UCI Medical Center and will begin providing the first round of injections to its front-line healthcare workers.

UCI Health was allotted some 3,000 units of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations will be offered to frontline healthcare workers today with a full roll out tomorrow to its frontline clinical staff members who care for patients in high-risk settings or patients with unknown COVID-19 status. 

Plans call for vaccinating 2,000 people in this group, known as Group A, by Sunday and then begin to offer the vaccine to Group B personnel. Five priority groups have been identified, A through E. This includes nurses and physicians in the emergency department and ICU staff and physicians, critical care clinicians, respiratory therapists and anesthesiologists, environmental services and dietary services, among others.

UCI Health is committed to ensuring that all its staff members have access to the vaccine as more doses are available. The first batch of the Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive next week.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines ›
(COVID-19: Información de la vacuna ›)

UCI Health CEO Chad Lefteris
“Our entire workforce is meeting this challenge while maintaining a high level of care for patients, both COVID and others,” says UCI Health CEO Chad Lefteris.

“Our UCI Health team is very, very excited to have this vaccine available — more than 500 people signed up within the first hour the vaccination schedule opened Monday afternoon,” says UCI Health CEO Chad Lefteris.

“Our entire workforce is meeting this challenge while maintaining a high level of care for patients, both COVID and others. We are the only level I trauma center, regional burn center and tertiary care center for a county of more than 3.2 million people — our community knows they can count on UCI Health.”

A number of UCI Health teams have literally been working around the clock to prepare for receiving, handling and distributing the Pfizer vaccine to the approximately 15,000 people who work within the UCI Health system.

Since UCI Health provides influenza vaccinations to its thousands of healthcare workers every year, an infrastructure is in place to support this effort.

However, numerous challenges posed by the novel nature of the Pfizer vaccine include ensuring the appropriate temperature control at every step in the handling, storage and vaccination process, collecting consent forms from each recipient and coordinating with staff members to ensure there is no disruption in patient care.

As an academic health system, UCI Health has several facilities well-suited for the demands of handling this vaccine, which requires deep-freeze storage and has very specific dose preparation requirements. These freezers are available and have been set up in vaccination stations.

Because there aren’t enough doses yet for everyone across the nation, initial supplies of vaccine will be given to those who need it most. The expected order of vaccinations as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are:

  • Healthcare workers
  • People in nursing homes and care facilities
  • Essential workers, which includes teachers, first-responders, law enforcement officials and people with food and agriculture jobs
  • Adults with underlying conditions and those over age 65
  • All other adults

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses given three to four weeks apart. An estimated 40 million doses (enough for 20 million people) is expected to be available from the manufacturers by the end of the year, with more coming in 2021.

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UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, Calif. The 418-bed acute-care hospital, listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 20 consecutive years, provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, as well as behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. It is the primary teaching hospital for the UCI School of Medicine. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It is located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. To learn more about UCI, visit www.uci.edu.