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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2021) — UK HealthCare began providing centralized COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday with vaccinations taking place at a rate of 80 to 85 people every 20 minutes. The University of Kentucky, UK HealthCare and UK Athletics partnered to offer the public vaccination clinic at Kroger Field, UK’s football stadium.
At the state’s direction, those receiving their COVID-19 vaccination during the opening day at the Kroger Field site included people over 70, K-12 Fayette County school personnel, first responders and health care providers in the area.
“Our goal is to vaccinate 1,800 to 2,000 people per day,” said UK Police Chief Joe Monroe who is directing UK’s Emergency Operations Center that is overseeing UK’s COVID-19 response.
UK HealthCare has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to assist with making the clinic run smoothly, from check-in, to administering the vaccine, to observing patients for a brief period of time after they receive the shot.
“I want to thank our pharmacy, nursing, physician and operational leadership that have stepped up to build what has been a well-oiled machine focused on protecting our patients and each other,” said Dr. Mark Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs.
The vaccination request link went live Friday evening, Jan. 15, and Dr. Ashley Montgomery, UK HealthCare interim assistant chief medical officer, said by Saturday night over 50,000 people had requested the vaccine. All requests go through a process to determine if the requestor meets the criteria for the current phase of vaccinations as determined by the state. If the requestor meets that criteria, they are invited to sign up for an appointment at the clinic.
“It’s a rolling process,” Montgomery said. “Each night we look at who falls into each category — who’s registered as a 1-A and a 1-B — and those people are invited first. Then we move down each category based on the availability of slots that week.”
All vaccination requests, appointments and consents are made online, which UK HealthCare Chief Pharmacist Philip Almeter says is key to moving so many people through the process.
“We get where you fall in the category, all your necessary demographics and your consent done electronically. And then when you fall in the right category of state and CDC guidelines, you’re invited. We have your consent on file, you have a slot, and you move through the process very efficiently,” Almeter said.
Citing the teamwork among so many areas of the university to make the clinic happen, Montgomery calls this “an incredible endeavor.”
"Everybody has worked seamlessly with the goal of ending the pandemic,” she said. “How do we get the most vaccines in the most arms in the most efficient way as fast as possible. It has been absolutely incredible to watch what can happen when a group of really motivated people come together and work as a team.”
The clinic will operate five days a week — Tuesday through Saturday — and will vaccinate about 2,000 people per day and may even increase that number in coming weeks. Only those with a predetermined appointment are able to receive the vaccine.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.