There has been encouraging news recently about COVID-19 vaccines, including the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization of two vaccines and the beginning of inoculations. Vaccine distribution across the country will follow guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
At the University Chicago Medicine (UCM), the first vaccine recipients in December were healthcare workers who work directly with patients, in accordance with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Phase 1a of vaccination. Following the Phase 1a guidance, the next wave of vaccinations has gone to those with indirect contact with patients or who play roles in fulfilling the overall missions of the medical center, including faculty, students and staff in the Division of Biological Sciences. Public health vaccination guidelines include these populations in part because of their potential for contact with clinical staff or infected materials.
Based on the CDC’s most recent recommendations, we anticipate that University employees will have access to vaccinations as part of Phase 1b of vaccine distribution, which includes essential workers such as “those who work in the education sector.” Although such vaccine allocation regulations are set by federal and state authorities, our commitment of medical care includes the communities of the South Side, and we will do all we can to facilitate vaccine access for South Side residents while following public health regulations and guidelines. A group of University leaders has been convened to work in consultation with UCM to establish vaccine allocation policies for University personnel who will be part of Phase 1b. the University will provide a separate update on these plans soon.
For more information, such as FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine and information on how vaccines are made and approved, see UChicago Medicine’s resources page and the from Dr. Stephen Weber, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President for Clinical Effectiveness at UChicago Medicine.