UCI campus COVID-19 patient vaccination site opens

UCI Health administers vaccines to patients 65 years and older

January 20, 2021
UCI Health vaccinates patients
UCI Health personnel are instructed on vaccine preparation at the Bren Events Center vaccination center on Saturday, Jan. 16. Steve Zylius / UCI

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCI and UCI Health have been committed to leading our community’s fight against the disease. Last weekend, UCI Health began offering the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 2,700 UCI Health patients 65 years of age and older on the UCI campus in Irvine.


“The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines is an important milestone for Orange County and UCI Health is proud to begin offering it to our patients,” said UCI Health CEO Chad Lefteris.


The UCI Health vaccination appointment schedule filled within two hours of going live Friday, reflecting the high demand for the vaccine. Doses were administered starting Saturday at noon through Monday afternoon at the UCI Bren Events Center.


“We are excited and enthusiastic about the response from our patients,” Lefteris said. “Together, we can lower the number of cases in Orange County and eventually conquer this disease that has caused so much devastation across our community.”


UCI Health Chief Operating Officer Dr. Nasim Afsar said additional vaccination events for UCI Health patients in California’s Phase 1a tier will be scheduled as doses become available.


“The UCI Health and UCI campus teams have done a fantastic job creating this vaccination program, just as they did for community COVID-19 testing last spring, but they can’t control this pandemic without your help,” Afsar said. “Please continue to wear masks, stay home when possible, practice appropriate social distancing and wash your hands regularly.”  


UCI Leadership

Even before the first COVID-19 case appeared in the United States, the UCI Health Epidemiology and Infection Prevention (EIP) team began preparing the university’s health system in January 2020 to safely care for patients with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.


In March, UCI Medical Center admitted its first COVID-19 patient and became the first hospital in Orange County to provide public COVID-19 testing. This collaboration with medical center leaders and faculty at the UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing quickly set up multiple testing sites and provided testing for first responders, like police and fire personnel, county agencies and the public.


Also in March, UCI Medical Center launched California’s first site for the National Institutes of Health clinical trial of the anti-viral drug remdesivir, which has since become a standard therapy for patients hospitalized for COVID-19. UCI researchers also created the first antibody tests that helped track COVID-19 rates in Orange County, which they began using in April.


UCI Health infectious disease experts used their longstanding research relationship with nursing homes in Orange County to begin training staff to protect themselves and nursing home residents. A team led by Dr. Susan Huang, UCI Health’s EIP director and one of the nation’s leading innovators in preventing the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare facilities, partnered with CalOptima to quickly set up training and monitoring programs.


And UCI Health and Susan & Henry Samueli College of Health Science researchers played a key role in the county’s tracking and tracing of the COVID-19 infection.


To help track and slow the spread of COVID-19, UCI public health researchers in July launched a health equity contact tracing workshop for Orange County Health Care Agency staff, UCI students and community members. The four-week series of remote training sessions helped meet the growing need for contact tracers who can do the detective-like work of figuring out how COVID-19 is transmitted from one person to another.


UCI researchers released a new Orange County COVID-19 website in September that tracks the spread of the disease and forecasts future trends. By feeding county data into a coronavirus transmission model, the site estimates current and future numbers of infectious individuals in Orange County, which is important for understanding risks of getting infected.


In October, after testing a representative sample of Orange County residents for a wide range of coronavirus antibodies, UCI public health researchers reported that 11.5 percent of them have antibodies for COVID-19, in contrast to previous estimates of less than 2 percent. UCI researchers led the actOC project in partnership with the OC Health Care Agency.


Last month, UCI Health and the county healthcare agency partnered to develop a mobile field hospital in front of the medical center’s Douglas Hospital, intended to reduce pressure on a crowded emergency department and inpatient units. Within weeks, plans were made and executed, and patients moved into a fully operating hospital unit on Dec. 29. Since then, the mobile unit has served more than 260 patients who were waiting for a bed after admission or are about to be discharged.


Please visit UCI Health’s COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions site for additional information and resources.


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 centerhigh-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.