Biweekly Briefing Articles

Hospitals’ Vital Role in Helping Counties Hit Vaccine Milestones

San Diego County hit a milestone last week in the fight against COVID-19: 1 million vaccines administered. That puts the county halfway to what public health officials say is their goal of fully vaccinating 75% — or 2,017,011 — of San Diego County residents 16 and older.

While part of this can be attributed to the increased supply of vaccine doses available, it also couldn’t have been reached without the partnerships with hospitals, which supplied the staff and volunteers for the vaccination super stations and were vital in helping the county reach this goal.

As National Hospital Week (May 9 -15) approaches with the theme “Inspiring Hope through Healing,” it’s important to recognize how quickly our hospitals and health systems pivoted from taking care of COVID-19 patients to administering COVID-19 vaccines. Around the region, your hospitals stepped up to staff vaccination super sites and provided an invaluable service to the community.

The vaccination delivery work began in earnest in January when UC San Diego Health opened a drive-thru vaccination center at Petco Park to begin immunizing health care workers employed by other hospitals and health facilities. Later, as other groups became eligible for the vaccine, the Petco Park site began serving other prioritized tiers, ultimately providing more than 200,000 vaccinations before it closed last month.

North County residents were able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the Del Mar Fairgrounds — which has temporarily closed as a vaccination site, but not before thousands of doses were administered at the Scripps Health super station.

And as of April 21, Sharp HealthCare team members, in addition to volunteers, had administered nearly 500,000 vaccine doses and fully vaccinated more than 155,000 individuals, according to Sharp Grossmont CEO Scott Evans. This is in addition to the 100,000 volunteer hours that have been logged to date, produced by roughly 8,000 unique volunteers, including non-clinical volunteers and vaccinators. Sharp’s super station locations include Grossmont Center, Chula Vista, downtown San Diego, and San Marcos, in addition to a smaller point of distribution at the San Ysidro Southwestern College campus.

Imperial County has reached its own milestone. County officials say that as of April 30, more than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to eligible residents. That means over 50% of eligible residents have received at least one dose, and one in five eligible are now fully vaccinated, according to a press release. The county’s Public Health Department is continuing to work with local groups and providers such as El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) and Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District to vaccinate members of the community. Both ECRMC and Pioneers have assisted in staffing vaccination clinics as well as made their sites available to distribute the vaccine.

While much has been accomplished, the hard work that began in January will continue as hospitals persevere in their outreach to encourage all who are eligible to get the vaccine and help the counties reach their goals. In a relatively short time, California has gone from worst to first with the lowest infection rate in the country; COVID-19 hospitalizations in California have dropped to their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic.

As conditions continue to improve throughout the state and we work toward a “full” June reopening, these vaccines are key to keeping COVID-19 cases down and patients out of hospitals. These vaccine milestones in both San Diego and Imperial counties are not to be taken lightly and something that hospitals, health care workers, and all the volunteers who have made this possible should be proud to be a part of.