What to Know
- As Part of Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout plan, frontline health care workers and staff will be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- San Diego County received a 28,000-dose supply of the vaccine on the week of Dec. 14, while a local military health center received an undisclosed amount of doses.
- Naval Medical Center San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital administered the first COVID-19 vaccines in San Diego County on Dec. 15.
A day after the first San Diego County residents were given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, UC San Diego Health continued the process Wednesday of rolling out the vaccine locally -- first to frontline health care workers.
The medical facility’s initial plan is to distribute 2,925 doses to health care workers and staff. It’s a full-circle moment for one UC San Diego Health doctor who had taken care of patients at the start of the pandemic who had returned to San Diego from Wuhan, China.
“Honestly, for me, I’m tearing up right now,” said Dr. Marlene Millen, MD, of UC San Diego Health. “It’s a very emotional moment.”
Millen is now one of the doctors in charge of distributing the coronavirus vaccine within the UC San Diego Health system.
UC San Diego Health said frontline health care workers receiving the vaccine this week include those with the greatest exposure to COVID-19 patients, such as emergency department staff, trauma staff, respiratory therapists, and personnel with face-to-face patient care in urgent care clinics.
“Our goal is to vaccinate as many employees as quickly as possible, depending upon supplies and evolving circumstances,” said Patty Maysent, CEO of UC San Diego Health. “With subsequent vaccine shipments from Pfizer and as other vaccines, such as Moderna, come online, we will expand the opportunity to vaccinate to all health system employees, our patients and communities beyond. We are determined to do this as safely and effectively, as rapidly and methodically, as we can.”
Which San Diego Medical Facilities Will Administer the Coronavirus Vaccine This Week?
In addition to UC San Diego Health, Kaiser Permanente’s Grantville location, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton and Palomar Health began to roll out the vaccines on Wednesday.
Kaiser Permanente plans on administering 525 doses and Palomar Health plans on administering 1,325 doses starting Wednesday.
Kaiser's Merope Duffin was among the first employees to receive the vaccine.
“This vaccine means a lot. I know it may seem scary, but it’s for the benefit of everyone.” said Duffin, “It’s been a very long and challenging year in the ER, and this vaccine means seeing an end to the pandemic."
Palomar Health said they plan to provide all staff who agree to take the vaccine, the two doses required within six weeks. Their first recipient was Respiratory Therapist Jon Hammer.
Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton received its doses of the vaccine from Naval Medical Center San Diego’s supply. The naval hospital's doses -- of which the amount is undisclosed -- are not part of San Diego County's overall 28,000 doses arriving this week.
Which San Diego Medical Facilities Have Already Started Rolling Out the Vaccine?
Naval Medical Center San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital began Tuesday to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The two locations were the first in the county to do so.
In fact, the very first non-military San Diego County resident to receive the vaccine was emergency room nurse Britanee Randle, 27, who has been employed at Rady Children's Hospital for two years.
"It was great!" Randle said. "The person administering it was awesome. I'm actually afraid of needles and I didn't even feel it."
Among San Diego's military community, Lt. Catherine Senoyuit was the first to receive a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
"I believe that we are on the frontline and we also have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the nation," said the U.S. Navy Registered Nurse, who works in Naval Medical Center San Diego's emergency department. "We are in here every day working with these patients and I feel as though me being able to give myself immunity, will ultimately give the patients that security."
Active and reserve service members will be able to receive the vaccine voluntarily in the coming days. They are not required to get the shots.
San Diego's Vaccine Plan: Which Communities Will Get It First?
Frontline medical workers will be the first community to be given Pfizer's new vaccine as part of a plan created by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Prevention.
Administering the vaccine to the public will be a three-phase process in which health care workers and long-term care workers and residents will be given priority, followed by essential workers, then adults who are over the age of 65 or who have medical conditions.
In Phase 2 of the vaccine roll out, critical workers not included in Phase 1 will be eligible for the vaccine, as well as children and young adults under the age of 30. Phase 3 includes everyone else in the U.S.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine comes in two doses that were determined to be 94% effective in preventing infection.
Side effects may include swelling, fatigue, irritation, pain or headache. Some patients who have taken the vaccine reported chills and low-grade fever, according to former FDA chief Dr. Margaret Hamburg.
Vaccine doses bought with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be free to Americans, according to the CDC. However, vaccination providers could charge an administration fee if they chose to.
Each of the county’s health care systems has put in their requests for the vaccine based on their needs. As of Wednesday, the vaccine doses are scheduled to be administered as follows:
- UC San Diego Health
- Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton
- Kaiser Permanente, Grantville location
- Kaiser Permanente, Kearny Mesa location
- Scripps Health