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UCI Health Receives COVID-19 Vaccine, First Batch of 3,000 to be Given to Frontline Healthcare Employees

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

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UCI Healthon Dec. 16 received an initial shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine at the 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. It will begin offering vaccinations to frontline healthcare workers today and continue with a full roll out tomorrow to its frontline clinical co-workers who care for patients in high-risk settings or patients with unknown COVID-19 status.

UCI Health officials say they plan to vaccinate 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 co-workers will have access to the vaccine as more doses are available.

It is believed that UCI Health will receive its first batches of the Moderna vaccine next week.

“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 scheduled opened Monday afternoon,” said 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 1 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 been literally working around the clock to prepare to receive, handle, and distribute the Pfizer vaccine to the approximately 15,000 who work within the UCI Health system. 

Since UCI Health’s clinics provide influenza vaccinations to thousands of healthcare workers every year, an infrastructure is in place to support this effort. 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 staff to ensure there is no disruption to 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 a vaccination station.

Because there aren’t enough doses yet for everyone, initial supplies of vaccine will be given to those who need it most. The expected order of vaccinations are:

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

People will need to take two vaccination shots three to four weeks apart. An estimated 40 million doses (enough for 20 million people) should be available from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the year, with more coming in 2021.


UCI Health comprises the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine—a platinum-level Leaders Circle Partner of the Greater Irvine Chamber. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center, in Orange, California. The 402-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center features 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. 

Category: Partner News, healthcare, COVID-19, UCI Health, Leaders Circle