SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- UC San Diego Health is expanding its vaccination efforts and started vaccinating 65 and older patients against COVID-19 on Thursday, marking the beginning of a new phase in the region’s vaccine rollout.
UC San Diego Health has now moved into Phase 1B-Tier 1, which includes people aged 65 and older. And those at risk of exposure at work in education, child care, emergency services, and food & agriculture.
The plan is to start out immunizing 500 patients a day. And due to a limited supply of vaccines, those doses will go to patients whose medical history makes them especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
"Eligible patients will receive a direct invitation to be vaccinated through their electronic medical record or a direct call from their health care provider. Patients are asked to wait for their vaccination invitations to avoid overwhelming phone lines and to accommodate ongoing services and care," according to a statement from UCSD.
UC San Diego Health's vaccinae expansion is in addition to the nearly 10,000 UC San Diego Health employees who have already received their first doses in Phase 1A.
Dalia Talamantez and Donald Crawford were among the first patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at UC San Diego Health.
“I am elated to receive a vaccine,” said Talamantez. “I’m getting vaccinated because I want to be protected from the virus. I was inspired to get this vaccine because I have seen many relatives and friends impacted by this virus. So for me, it is absolutely wonderful and delightful that I was able to get it this soon.”
"This means the start of hopefully the end of this COVID-19 crisis,” added Crawford. “I got the vaccine because hopefully it will help me and others and we can eventually get back to normal.”
In a press conference Wednesday, San Diego County leaders said the county is still trying to get everyone in Phase 1A vaccinated, which consists of health care workers and staff.
Board of Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher said the county would also need to build a capable large-scale distribution system and staff enough people to administer vaccines. There are plans for super vaccination sites to be added in the South Bay, North County, and East County.
For the moment, vaccine doses are still mostly going to San Diego County’s nursing home residents and health care workers, the state’s highest-priority vaccination group.
Scripps Health, Sharp Healthcare, and Kaiser all said they are still working on the eligible healthcare workers in Phase 1A.