Update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution

To: UC Santa Cruz Employees

From: Sarah Latham, Vice Chancellor Business and Administrative Services

Last week, I shared an update on the COVID-19 vaccine that included information on the updated Interim COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees. As the UC system continues its vaccine roll-out and the state adapts its distribution approach, I provide the following updated information. Additional information is available on the Student Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine webpage

New state vaccination framework

On Tuesday, the state announced changes to the vaccine allocation process and framework. The goal is to provide consistency across counties and speed the distribution of vaccine doses across the state. Please note that the supply of vaccine doses received by the state continues to be dictated by the federal government. The changes include:

  • Simplifying Eligibility - The state is adjusting their grouping for vaccine eligibility. They will continue with Phase 1A, which includes health care workers, and Phase 1B, Tier 1 which includes individuals 65+ and those working in child care, emergency services, food, agriculture, and education. Future groups will then be eligible based on age. We could see additional changes to the state eligibility groups emerge over time.

  • Expanding Roll Out of the My Turn System  - The state has been piloting the My Turn system, whereby individuals can sign up for a notification when they are eligible to make an appointment to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. The pilot has taken place in Los Angeles and San Diego and the state expects to roll it out to other counties in February. 

  • Streamlining Vaccination Distribution - The state is engaging a third-party administrator to start allocating vaccine doses to public health systems, pharmacies, health systems, public hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies and pop-up and mobile sites. 

Planning for upcoming distribution of doses to the UC system and UC Santa Cruz 

The University of California has developed an allocation model to distribute doses coming into the system. In looking out over the next few weeks, the UC system anticipates getting approximately 15,000 doses weekly from the state. The UC system doses are then allocated between UC Health Center patients and UC employees. Once the dose allocation goes through the state eligibility requirements, if the UC gets 15,000 doses weekly, that translates to approximately 200 doses per week for UC Santa Cruz. If the UC gets more doses in the weeks to come, then our allocation increases based on the distribution formula put in place.

As we shared in prior communications, our campus has been in Phase 1A of the state framework and has focused on the allocation of our vaccine doses to those working in healthcare settings. The campus has received a total of 200 doses, since vaccines started rolling out in December. 

With the anticipation of receiving additional doses in the weeks to come, our campus will now move into Phase 1B.  The allocation of doses within the UC will use the following prioritization, in alignment with state eligibility groups. 

Group 1 - Employees age 65+ 

Group 2 - Employees working on-site in the following four areas:

  • Food service

  • Child care

  • First responder

  • Agriculture

Group 3 - Employees working on-site in categories outside the four listed in Group 2

How quickly we get vaccines to the employees in these three groups will depend on the number of doses we get each week. To provide context, our campus has more than 2,000 employees that fall into the three groups above. As mentioned earlier, we estimate that we will receive approximately 200 doses per week over the next few weeks. That number could increase if the UC allocation from the state increases during this time.

Here are some answers to key questions that might arise for you:

  • If I fall in one of the three groups above, how will I know when I can get my vaccination? 

If you fall into one of the three groups above, you will receive a notice from Student Health Services via your UCSC email account. The email will include instructions on your eligibility and how you should schedule your appointments.

  • What if I fall outside the three groups listed above?

After we get through the three groups listed above, and based on the current state framework, vaccine eligibility will be age based. For many employees, you may find that it is more timely to obtain a vaccine through an off-campus health care provider or vaccination site. It’s very hard to project the timing on this based on overall federal and state distribution. Be sure to read any notices that you receive from your health care provider in the event that you might be eligible through off-campus health care sooner than our campus vaccine program.

  • How will I make an appointment to get a vaccine on campus?  

When you are eligible to make an appointment on campus, you will be notified via your UCSC email account and receive detailed instructions from Student Health Services on how to make your appointment. 

  • What can I do if I am not yet eligible to get a vaccine through campus? 

The continued roll-out of the vaccine brings hope on the horizon. I recognize, however, that the fact there are fewer vaccine doses than demand across the country and in our own community adds angst to the members of our Slug community as you navigate the pandemic and health concerns for yourselves and your loved ones. We continue to advocate as a campus and as a university system to get additional doses, and we are hopeful that we will see an increase in dose distribution. In the meantime, we continue to proactively encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible through your healthcare provider or other means, if that opportunity arises before you can get a vaccine through the campus. 

  • What other steps should I be taking while waiting for the vaccine to roll out? 

As we work to implement the vaccine program and our allocation of doses increases, we must all continue to follow the Slug Strong actions that we have been promoting throughout the pandemic: wear a face covering, abide by physical distancing guidelines, avoid large gatherings, do not come to campus if you are feeling ill, and regularly wash your hands. In addition, please take advantage of the asymptomatic testing program we have available for on-site employees. These actions will be necessary for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to each of you for all you are doing as we work through this stage of our COVID-19 response. I continue to be amazed by the dedication, compassion and resilience shown across our community.  We will continue to update you as additional information becomes available or as state or system guidance adapts further.