The fight against COVID-19 is advancing, with vaccine production ramping up and more people immunized. Nearly 58 million Americans have received at least one dose and most experts believe the vaccine will be readily available to all communities by summer’s end, giving us optimism about the possibility of a more traditional college experience, including a return to primarily in-person instruction, in the fall.
We’re proud that UCI Health has delivered nearly 41,000 doses to those who qualify under the initial phases of the County’s vaccination program – including front-line health care workers, patient-facing campus employees, and patients and employees 65 years of age and older – despite extremely limited supply. This represents approximately 6% of all doses given in Orange County. As the vaccine supply increases, Orange County is preparing to advance to Phase 1B of its plan as early as next week, opening the doors to those of us in higher education.
This is encouraging news, as all UCI employees will be eligible for the vaccine when Phase 1B opens. We encourage you to get vaccinated through any available channel – whether it’s UCI, a health care provider, or a community-based site. If your selected vaccination site requires eligibility documents, please contact UCI’s COVID Response Center (CRC) team at email@example.com or 949.824.9918 to obtain a UCI employment verification letter. Email and phone lines are staffed Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Please do not wait to receive your vaccine at UCI. We remain ready to continue administering vaccines in Irvine and Orange, contingent on available supply, but there is considerable uncertainty about how vaccines will be distributed in the future. The state plans to move from a county-based network to a state-wide approach administered by Blue Shield of California. We expect to be included in the vaccination program determined by government officials, but we don’t have solid guidance and plans change frequently.
As we navigate this environment, we will continue immunizing eligible employees and patients when possible. If Phase 1B opens next week, we will send invitations to approximately 2,700 employees who are required to work on campus, as determined by deans and vice chancellors, on Monday. We currently have 600 doses available. At this point, we do not know if we will receive additional doses in the weeks ahead. If we do, this group will be invited to subsequent vaccine opportunities and then we will move on to other employees. If we do not receive additional doses, we will share this information so employees can make plans to receive vaccines at designated sites off campus when Phase 1B opens.
Please get the vaccine when you are eligible. It’s safe, effective, and our best chance at expediting a return to normal activity. UCI Health developed a robust FAQ to help answer any questions or concerns you may have.
You can also learn more about the vaccine at the upcoming UCI Health Affairs Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 25. Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dr. Steve Goldstein will moderate this event featuring Dean of Public Health Bernadette Boden-Albala and Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention Dr. Susan Huang. You are welcome to submit questions in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your health and wellbeing remain our top priority, so we’re committed to helping you access the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible. Whether you have remained working on campus throughout the pandemic, or been dedicated to your work remotely, we thank you for your commitment and fortitude. Together, we will achieve a brilliant future.
Hal S. Stern, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Statistics