UC Davis Health vaccinated its first round of patients for COVID-19 Tuesday, some of the first people other than health workers and long-term care facility residents to get their shots in

Sacramento County.

After vaccinating its own employees, the health system began reaching out to certain patients over age 75 to offer them the vaccine by appointment. They’ve compiled a list of roughly 500 high-risk patients to invite in, such as those with cancer or severe lung conditions or people waiting for transplants.

Jim Clark, an 86-year-old Folsom resident with diabetes, high blood pressure and several other medical conditions, says he got a call from UC Davis Monday night and didn't hesitate to make an appointment.

“I was very happy,” he said. “I would’ve got this shot six months ago if they’d have given it to me.”

Clark, who is a 28-year military veteran, said he did not have any safety concerns around the vaccine. He says he misses going to the casino and having coffee with his friends.

“I hope my next one is going to do what I need to have done,” he said of the second dose he’ll receive in a few weeks. “I’d like to live a couple more years, but ya never know.”

The hospital serves more than 17,000 people over age 75, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Doug Kirk. Healthy patients over age 75 are not yet being offered the vaccine.

“We expect that to change on a regular basis, and as more vaccine arrives we’ll identify increasing numbers of patients to be vaccinated,” he said. “Our limiting factor will not be the operations or the personnel here at UC Davis Health, it’ll be the vaccine supply chain.”

The Tuesday vaccination event marks a transition from Phase 1A — frontline health workers and long term care facility residents and staff — to Phase 1B, which includes people over age 75 and workers in education, agriculture and public safety.

The health system is notifying patients about when it’s their turn via an online patient portal, or calling patients where necessary. UCD patients who feel they are eligible for a vaccine at this point and have not been notified should contact their primary care providers.

Kirk says the health system is administering all of the supply they have, and are not holding onto any for second round vaccinations in hopes that more doses will arrive by that time.

“The ones that are in our freezer now that we’ve been given by the county most recently, as quickly as the patients walk through that door we’ll vaccinate them,” he said. “And as many as we can possibly do every single day of the week … They keep it comin’, we’ll keep vaccinating.”

The health system also called in health workers not affiliated with their system who hadn’t yet gotten access to the vaccine. They found those providers through the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, a professional organization for physicians from all modes of practice.

Sutter Health says it expects to start administering vaccines to patients age 75 and older later this week.

This Thursday and Friday, Dignity Health will begin vaccinating patients with the goal of administering the 400 doses it has set aside for patients. Dr. John Gisla, medical director for quality and value operations with Mercy Medical Group, says they’re reaching out directly to patients who are over 75.

“The reality is the demand for vaccine is so high, that if we put the word out to call for your vaccine, it’s going to overwhelm our phone system,” he said.

He says they aren’t distinguishing between elderly people who have underlying medical conditions and those who don’t.

“We’re looking at a very simple line, patients age 75 and older, that’s the best approach for an efficient roll-out,” he said.

Kaiser Permanente says they haven’t started vaccinating patients yet because they are still working on offering vaccines to health workers in Phase 1A.

UC Davis patient Bobbie Nauer, 77, received a call Wednesday from the health system telling her she could come in for a vaccine.

“I feel very, very lucky, I really do,” she said. “It’s a blessing, and it does make you feel a little safer … it’s another layer, besides the mask, for protection against this virus.”

California has been allocated more than 2 million vaccine doses from the federal government, and just over a quarter of those have been administered by local public health departments and hospital systems.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for a faster vaccine roll-out, and recently changed the rules so that counties can vaccinate multiple priority groups at once, instead of waiting until one group is finished before moving onto the next. Find the breakdown of the state’s priority plan by age group and occupational sector here.

Sutter Health is a major donor to CapRadio.

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