Full partners in distributing vaccine to front-line staff, UNMC and Nebraska Medicine have completed four weeks of vaccine clinics. Front-line staff who received their first dose in mid-December are beginning to return and receive the second dose of the two-part series.
So far, more than 6,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered. The majority of these have been first doses, but more than 900 colleagues have now received both doses.
Last week, Nebraska Medicine received a shipment of Moderna vaccine, which will be incorporated into the vaccine clinic schedule moving forward. The Moderna vaccine will also be given in Grand Island and Lincoln, as it doesn't need the extreme cold storage that the Pfizer vaccine requires.
"We are making progress in vaccinating front-line workers who are interested in receiving the vaccine," said Tammy Winterboer, PharmD, vice president, Quality, Experience and Effectiveness at Nebraska Medicine. "Those with the highest risk of exposure have either received their first dose or are being scheduled for an upcoming clinic. We've also been able to add thousands of additional appointments over the next couple of weeks as we've gotten a steadier supply of the vaccine."
The goal is to have all colleagues, providers and students who interact with patients and wish to be vaccinated complete their first dose by the end of January.
As previously announced, the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine vaccine allocation has been segmented into levels based upon colleagues potential workplace COVID exposure.
As of Jan. 8, all colleagues who interact with patients are eligible to schedule their vaccination. Vaccine distribution is based solely on job roles & responsibilities and UNMC and Nebraska Medicine employees who perform identical jobs have identical access to the vaccines. Leaders are working with their staff to schedule them in smaller groups, to ensure that any side effects will not disrupt the care we are providing to patients. In clinical studies, the number of individuals who experience side effects is higher with the second dose. If you provide patient care and haven't been contacted about scheduling your vaccine clinic, please reach out to your manager.
Vaccines will continue to be administered, based on the quantity received from the State of Nebraska, and in line with the prioritization the state outlines. Clinics are scheduled into February, with volunteers from across the organization helping to run the four-hour sessions. As additional vaccines are received, more clinic dates have been added to accommodate additional staff. Multiple clinics are being held each week in lower Storz Pavilion at the Nebraska Medical Center. Grand Island and Lincoln also will hold clinics for prioritized staff and students this month.
"We are doing everything we can to ensure that faculty, staff and students on our campuses outside Omaha also have equal access to the vaccine," said Ted Cieslak, MD, interim executive director for health security at UNMC. "With that said, the vaccines' stringent transport and storage requirements make it difficult for us to procure vaccine in Omaha and transport it to our other campuses."
As a result, the medical center will work with local health departments in Kearney, Norfolk and Scottsbluff to serve employees and students in these locations. Teams from Omaha will provide vaccine in Lincoln. The team going to Grand Island plans on immunizing Nebraska Medicine personnel, but UNMC students doing rotations in the Grand Island area may be able to obtain vaccine as part of these efforts.
"The COVID-19 vaccine logistics are more complex than the influenza vaccine clinics we hold every fall," Dr. Winterboer said. "Thanks to the leadership of pharmacy, employee health, IT, infection prevention, facilities and many others, these vaccine clinics serve as an example of teamwork in action. It has required a lot of careful planning to ensure the clinics are safe and efficient."
More details on the COVID-19 vaccine are available on this intranet page. Public-facing information also is located at NebraskaMed.com/Vaccine. Planning is currently underway for vaccine distribution for the public and our patients. Details will be finalized after the state announces its plan, likely in the coming week.
Administrators are discussing the next phase of vaccinations, which includes individuals who do not interact with patients. A timeframe has not been determined, but these individuals could receive notification in the next few weeks about scheduling their vaccine clinic. Vaccines will continue to be administered, based on the quantity received from the State of Nebraska, and in line with the prioritization the state outlines.
There has been little information concerning vaccination of employees over 75 who do not have direct patient contact. When can we expect that?