1/5: COVID-19 Vaccine Availability for the Campus Communities

To: USC Faculty, Staff, Students, Parents

From: Sarah Van Orman, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health, Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Date: January 5, 2021

Subject: COVID-19 Vaccine Availability for the Campus Communities

As announced in the December 18, 2020 message from Rod Hanners, Interim CEO of Keck Medicine of USC, this past month marked a much-anticipated milestone in the ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic: the arrival of effective vaccines. This moment arrived at a time when our local health care systems were experiencing an unprecedented surge, and we hope this will help bring a faster return to safer containment of the virus, and lead to the end of the pandemic in 2021.

In distributing the vaccines, USC is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for phased distribution of the vaccine. 

Given the fast-moving developments in shipments of the first approved vaccine, and the recent emergency use authorization of the second vaccine, the timeframe for vaccine availability is being updated nearly daily.

The first group of people to receive the vaccine, Phase 1A, includes health care workers, first responders, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. Currently, we are continuing to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers and personnel in the health care environment, at Keck Hospital, Verdugo Hills Hospital, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and other clinical facilities including Ostrow School of Dentistry. This includes faculty, staff, students, residents, and fellows in the health professions. Since the first week of vaccination that began on Thursday, December 17, more than 4,000 vaccinations were given to health care workers at Keck Medicine of USC.

For the USC campus population, USC Student Health | Keck Medicine of USC will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and the CDPH for phased distribution of the vaccine. Our next phase will include 1B-essential workers (on-site employeesand individuals over the age of 75 (faculty, staff and students) who are permitted to work/study on-site in campus facilities. It is unclear at this point when LA Department of Public Health will authorize vaccinating Phases 1B, but we are working closely with them to pursue allocation.

The pace of moving from Phase 1A to later phases, from scarcity to broad availability, will occur in the coming weeks. The complete timeframe and pace of vaccine distribution is not yet known, and is dependent on availability of vaccines through state distribution.

As we anticipate new developments and are prepared for vaccination of our campus community, we encourage all in our community to become familiar with the facts of the COVID-19 vaccine(s), including these FAQs, and will share additional information as it becomes available.

Please save the dates below for January health update sessions with USC Student Health, covering COVID-19 screening, testing, and vaccines:

  • Q&A for faculty and staff, co-sponsored with the Staff Assembly and Academic Senate, (invite will be shared through USC email, recorded session will be available), Friday, January 8 at 2 pm.
  • Q&A for parents, with USC Student Affairs, (webinar registration will be available soon), Tuesday, January 12 at 3 pm.
  • Q&A for student leaders – with Graduate Student Government and Undergraduate Student Government representatives, (email invite, recorded session will be available), Friday, January 15 at 1 pm.

Keep up with the current factual evidence on vaccines at http://coronavirus.usc.edu/, and continue with the precautions of wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings, maintaining physical distances of 6 ft. or more, and good hand hygiene practices.

Stay safe, stay well and thank you for your work in keeping our communities safe. We look forward to forging brighter path together for 2021.