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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.
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.