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UCSD To Help County Deliver 5,000 COVID-19 Vaccinations Per Day

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UC San Diego Health, San Diego County and the Padres are teaming up to vaccinate at least 5,000 healthcare workers per day against the novel coronavirus, starting Monday.

Speaker 1: 00:00 The centers for disease control today issued recommendations that all States should start giving vaccines to people 65 and older. And those with pre-existing conditions, the original recommendation prioritized healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities. Here's CDC director, Robert Redfield. Uh, we clearly have enough vaccine at this point to begin to expand and get more and more of the vulnerable individuals in our country. Vaccinated. The CDC also says the government will no longer hold back vaccines for second doses relying instead on a continuing supply chain of vaccines from manufacturers, it's not yet known how, or whether California will begin immediately opening up vaccinations to all older Californians. But one model for mass inoculation seems to be getting off to a good start. About 2,500 healthcare workers were vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday opening day for the vaccination Superstation at Petco park. Officials are hoping to get that number up to 5,000 a day. By the end of the week, the Superstation is a team effort by UC San Diego health, San Diego County and the Padres. And joining me is Patty Mason, CEO of UC San Diego health. Patty, welcome to the program. Good morning. Why was the Superstation needed?

Speaker 2: 01:24 There is a lot of healthcare workers and in San Diego, almost 500,000. And, uh, the vaccine had been distributed to health systems who have been in the process of vaccinating their workers, but there are a lot of independent groups, physician groups, dentists, that's home health workers, et cetera, that didn't have ready access to the vaccine. And so we came together with the County of San Diego to set up an operational infrastructure to start reaching that healthcare worker population.

Speaker 1: 01:54 And who specifically qualifies as a healthcare worker, is that a dental hygienist, a hospital staff member, a veterinarian who qualifies

Speaker 2: 02:05 It's all, all of the above. Every everyone that you just named, um, as physical therapists and occupational therapists and social workers and psychiatrists and mental health providers and dentists, and, uh, that's all, all of the above. So it's a, it's a big population of, um, providers, um, which is why I think we'll get to this point in the next week or two, as we make more progress on that group that we'll, we'll, we'll be given the green light to start, um, vaccinating our patients, at least that's our hope.

Speaker 1: 02:38 How does the Superstation work? And you just drive to Petco park and get a shot.

Speaker 2: 02:42 Well, before you drive there, go online and you go to www dot vaccination, super station S as a health care worker, you can go ahead and register yourself and then get in. I'll actually have a specific scheduled time when you go to Petco park to the parking lot, we have peds set up and you come into the parking lot. You check in at the registration, they check your credentials, your health care worker credentials, make sure you're registered. And then you drive forward to the tent. Uh, nurse comes and vaccinate you. We observe you there for 15 minutes unless you have allergies. Uh, and then we move you to a tent where you would be observed for 30 minutes. And then the whole row of cars kind of gets done at the same time. And then you drive out the other side of the parking lot. So you never, you never actually leave your car,

Speaker 1: 03:33 Which vaccine are people getting Pfizer or Medina.

Speaker 2: 03:37 So we're using Madrona at this point. It's a little bit easier to store and to keep than the Pfizer. Um, I think we could probably adjust that down the road, but we, you know, we really just conceived of this idea last, uh, last week kind of tried to remove as many operational hurdles as we could to get it up and operational.

Speaker 1: 03:55 Now the goal is to get 5,000 people a day vaccinated. Do we have enough vaccine to handle that volume?

Speaker 2: 04:02 It's a really important question. And I think the hope and the belief of the County, as well as UC San Diego, is that as we continue to vaccinate that the state will continue to allocate vaccine to us. So I don't know exactly what's in the, in the County stores right now, the County is defining the vaccine. Um, but as we work through those stores, we believe they'll get replenished to, we can do both the second dose as well as continue to do more healthcare workers.

Speaker 1: 04:32 And where is the staff coming from to administer these vaccinations?

Speaker 2: 04:36 So right now the, the base staff is UC San Diego health staff, physicians, nurses, medical students. Um, we are releasing a link for volunteers. We do believe this is the first of several superstations to come. So we're trying to develop the, you know, the infrastructure to take in volunteers from outside of UC San Diego health to potentially support the efforts across the region.

Speaker 1: 05:02 No, as I mentioned, the CDC today recommended that States begin giving vaccines to people 65 and older and people under 65 with documented comorbidities. What's your reaction to that news?

Speaker 2: 05:15 What I can tell you is that as a healthcare provider and leader, we are so anxious to get to our, um, older patients and our, in our sicker more complex patients. Um, we are desperate to get vaccines in their arms. Um, but we recognize based on the state and the local public health order that we need to address this healthcare worker population first. So we talk almost daily with Dr. Wooten, uh, County public health officer to work through this population. So we can get to those patients quickly. We're hoping that it will be sooner rather than later, that it'll be in the next couple of weeks, even though we may not have finished all of the, you know, what's what we call when a, the healthcare worker population that will begin to start being able to get to our patients sooner rather than later. But, you know, we have this job of getting these healthcare workers done first.

Speaker 1: 06:08 And if the state decides to move ahead with that recommendation, how do you envision it happening here with more super stations?

Speaker 2: 06:16 No, I think what's going to happen is that again, the health systems in general have an infrastructure to reach out and vaccinate their patients. So for instance, at UC San Diego health, um, we've already looked through our electronic medical record. We've already identified our patients over 75 or, or who are complex or have co-morbidities that we need to address. And we've, um, you know, we've, we're ready to go, ready to schedule them, ready to send out the invite to them to be scheduled. Um, we just need kind of the go ahead to do it. So I think a lot of, a lot of that will be done through health systems and through providers, healthcare providers, to the patient population. The, the key obviously is we need, we need the vaccine to, to me from a patient perspective. That's the rate limiting factor right now is that we need more allocation of vaccines so we can get it into the arms of our seniors.

Speaker 1: 07:06 I've been speaking with Patty Mason, CEO of UC San Diego health. Patty, thank you very much for your time.

Speaker 2: 07:13 Thank you. [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.