To: The Campus Community
From: Steve Atlee, Vaccine Working Group Chair and Deputy General Counsel
Date: January 28, 2021
Re: Vaccine Planning and Distribution Update for Campus
Caltech's application to be a community-based provider of COVID-19 vaccines has been approved by the State of California. With this approval, the Institute is now eligible to request an allocation of vaccines to administer to members of the campus community.
While this latest development is encouraging, it is not yet clear how many vaccines we can expect to receive or when we will receive them. Efforts by the state, county, and city to allocate vaccines have been challenged by limitations in supply, with demand from an expanding group of eligible recipients outpacing available doses. According to data from the City of Pasadena, the Pasadena Public Health Department has received 9,000 doses since the vaccine first became available in mid-December as a result of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization; of those doses, nearly two-thirds have been administered. However, we understand that more than 20,000 individuals in the current prioritization tier, which includes health care workers and individuals age 65 and older, are still waiting to receive the first of their two shots.
Caltech expects that vaccines allocated to the Institute will be delivered in phases, and we plan to distribute available doses to community members in accordance with the required regional and state prioritization categories. The Institute estimates there are approximately 400 individuals within the campus community who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine because they meet the 65 and older age requirement. Approximately 2,100 additional employees and students who are essential on-site workers may become eligible to receive the vaccine, depending on availability, beginning in mid-February when the state is expected to expand eligibility to include certain work sectors, including education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agricultural services. This week, the state announced that once vaccines have been made available to a significant number of individuals in these categories, it will once again expand its eligibility tiers, based on age. The details of that new prioritization system and associated timing for making vaccines available have not been shared publicly yet; information on the state's vaccination plan is available on the California for All site.
In the meantime, Caltech strongly encourages all members of the community to seek access to the vaccine at their earliest point of eligibility, whether from the Institute or another provider. Los Angeles County's COVID-19 Vaccine website, VaccinateLACounty.com, was updated this week to incorporate the state's new appointment registration platform, MyTurn. This registration system features a streamlined process for county residents who are currently eligible to book vaccination appointments in their area; it also allows those who are not yet eligible to sign up to receive notifications as to when doses will become available to future priority groups. We would like to remind our Pasadena residents who are age 65 and older to register online with the Pasadena Public Health Department for access to the city's clinics; some members of our community have been vaccinated this week via this route.
We will continue to keep the community informed on updates to the Institute's vaccine planning and deployment process. We appreciate that there are many questions among members of our community, including who in the campus community will be eligible to receive the vaccine on campus, and when that is expected to happen; how individuals should share information about having received a vaccination elsewhere; and how vaccinations may impact or allow for expanded operations on campus. We are committed to providing answers as we have them, and we invite you to review the information and questions that have been addressed on the Caltech Together vaccination page and frequently asked questions section.
Please also remember that we are still in the early stages of COVID-19 vaccine deployment, and scientists and public health officials are still learning more about the impact that our vaccination efforts will have in curbing the pandemic. As such, it is important that everyone, including those who have already received their vaccinations, continue to adhere to all preventative measures that have proven successful in mitigating transmission of the virus: maintaining physical distance from individuals outside of your household, wearing facing coverings, and washing hands frequently.