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Update on Vaccine Planning and Distribution Process

January 08, 2021

To: The Caltech Community
   Steve Atlee, Vaccine Working Group Chair and Deputy General Counsel
   David A. Tirrell, Provost
   Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President 
Date: January 8, 2021
Re: Update on Vaccine Planning and Distribution Process 

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has underscored the importance of prompt and widespread vaccination of the Caltech community and the broader population. We write to provide updates on the Institute's vaccine preparation efforts and the latest from the State of California on its vaccine allocation process.

While we do not yet know exactly what role the Institute will be allowed to play in administering COVID-19 vaccines to our community members, we are taking steps to prepare and advocate for such an opportunity. Working closely with the Pasadena Public Health Department, we have submitted the Institute's application for approval as a state-authorized community partner, which would allow Caltech to receive shipments of vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We also are contracting with third-party providers who will administer the vaccines on the Institute's behalf.

Assuming we receive approval of our community-partner status, the Institute will allocate and offer vaccines in accordance with the criteria and prioritization tiers set by local, state, and federal public health authorities. In the initial Phase 1A, state and local authorities are prioritizing health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. The L.A. County Department of Public Health Department (LACDPH) estimates that everyone in Phase 1A will have been offered at least one dose by late January or early February. The next tier, Phase 1B, includes individuals 75 years or older and essential workers who are reporting on site. LACDPH estimates that vaccinations in Phase 1B will begin in early February and that everyone in that phase will have been offered at least one dose by late March. Given the trends in case activity within the campus community, the Institute will make the vaccine available to essential support staff at the earliest possible time.

To assist in our planning efforts, the Institute's vaccine working group plans to survey members of the community to assess individuals' interest in being vaccinated at Caltech. Indicating your interest to participate in a vaccine allocation program is not a guarantee that you will be vaccinated at Caltech, but will allow us to plan effectively and respond quickly as doses become available.

The Institute strongly encourages all members of the Caltech community to receive the vaccine at their earliest point of eligibility. Vaccinations are a critical, life-saving tool, and along with continued compliance with our face covering, physical distancing, and surveillance testing requirements, are central to the Institute's pandemic response efforts. Taken together, these measures will protect the health of our community and support the earliest possible resumption of traditional operations.

As the vaccine becomes widely available, it will be important for us to achieve widespread vaccination of our community and to understand the extent to which that goal has been accomplished. To that end, any member of the community who receives a vaccine, whether from Caltech or another provider, should retain their vaccine record to certify their inoculation when requested.

We encourage all members of the community to familiarize themselves with facts about the COVID-19 vaccines. We also invite participation in a virtual webinar with Professor Pamela Bjorkman on the vaccines on Monday, January 11 at 11 a.m.

We will continue to keep you informed of any new developments related to the Institute's vaccine allocation and distribution efforts. In addition, updates also will be posted to the Caltech Together website.