LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 16, 2020) — After receiving the Pfizer vaccine shipment on Tuesday morning at UK Chandler Hospital, five emergency department employees were the first to receive the vaccine about four hours later. In about a week, 1,950 front-line health care workers who either take care of COVID-19 patients or who are exposed to patients being ruled out for the virus, will receive the first dose of the two-dose vaccine.
UK HealthCare's allotment of the vaccine is among nearly 12,000 doses available in this week’s initial rollout for Kentucky’s health care workers.
This comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an emergency use authorization (EUA) Dec. 11 for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first-ever approved vaccine ready to administer in the fight against COVID-19.
"After 10 months of being on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited for the good news that a vaccine is now available and that we can offer it to some of our health care workers at UK HealthCare," said Dr. Mark Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs. "We will be providing the first vaccinations to our front-line employees who have direct patient care primarily for COVID-19 patients or under investigation for COVID-19. While we know that we have a long way to go in ending this pandemic, we are grateful to be part of this momentous first step."
Before the end of the year, Kentucky is expected to receive around 38,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 77,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, whose EUA will go before the FDA for approval on Dec. 17.
Both vaccines require two doses, or an initial shot and a booster weeks later. UK HealthCare officials expect the second booster shipment for the first batch of doses to arrive within three weeks.
“The initial shipment and vaccinations for our frontline healthcare workers is an exciting first step to rolling out the vaccine across the Commonwealth,” said UK HealthCare Chief Pharmacist Philip Almeter. “Going forward, the University of Kentucky is prepared to play a significant role in vaccinating all Kentuckians against COVID-19.”
UK HealthCare will be rolling out the vaccines according to the National Academy of Medicine Phased Approach for COVID Vaccination. Phase 1 begins with a “Jumpstart Phase” for high-risk health workers and first responders, which is followed by people of all ages with co-morbid and underlying conditions that put them at higher risk, as well as older adults living in congregate settings such as nursing homes.
On Tuesday, UK Emergency Department employees Dr. Charles Eckerline, Abby Bailey, Claire Stockwell, Jeremy Jones and Hinali Patel were administered the first doses of the vaccine in the UK HealthCare Karpf Auditorium set up as a vaccination station.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.