12/3: COVID-19 Vaccine Update

December 3, 2020

Dear USC Community, 

As coronavirus cases climb locally and throughout the United States, a bright spot in the news has been the reported success of several Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials. The University has been following these developments closely and has taken tangible steps to ensure we are prepared for a safe and efficient vaccine rollout for the USC community as soon as possible. 

President Folt asked me to chair a vaccine working group that is principally engaged in developing an evidence-based strategy for the vaccination of USC staff, faculty, students, and patients. The group, whose work is already in full swing, will also support efforts for the vaccination of the community at large. Its members include:

  • USC Provost, Charles F. Zukoski;
  • Interim Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Narsing Rao;
  • Dean of the USC School of Pharmacy, Vassilios Papadopoulos; and
  • Interim Vice President and Executive Director of Capital Construction and Facilities Management, Christopher Toomey

The vaccine working group is supported by leaders in infectious disease medicine, operations, student health, human resources, and communications, and builds on the ongoing work of USC’s Public Health Policy Advisory working group, which was assembled at the outset of this pandemic. The specific areas our experts are now tackling include:

  • Determining the most equitable allocation and prioritization of vaccines for the USC community;
  • Evaluating the most effective and secure distribution of vaccines;
  • Setting internal vaccine policies for students, staff, and faculty;
  • Working with local officials to create mobile vaccine sites for the larger community; and
  • Communicating policies and procedures.

As our experts confirm University guidance on these important issues, we will keep you apprised. But I want you to know that some important actions have already been taken:

  • The University has secured refrigeration and freezing facilities to accommodate the storage needs of the leading vaccine candidates. 
  • The University has already begun to increase staffing that will support both our expanded spring COVID-19 testing program, as well as any vaccination program that comes online this spring.

We expect that as we approach the end of 2020, there will be additional news, either about results of trials, or with regards to emergency use authorizations for one or more of the vaccine candidates now under consideration. As these developments occur, we will continue to share more detailed information with you about the University’s plans. 

In the meantime, please stay safe. 


Rod Hanners
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Keck Medicine of USC