Across the country, efforts are underway to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations. As it moves rapidly to vaccinate staff, UPMC is following guidelines from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The efforts prioritize patient-facing workers while ensuring the uninterrupted provision of health care for all UPMC patients.
The health care community is much larger than patient-facing providers –and even understanding who directly interacts with patients and caregivers might not be immediately obvious. “We learned early on we cannot categorize and prioritize employees for vaccination based solely on their job title, but also need to understand their work,” said Tami Minnier, UPMC’s chief quality officer, at a press briefing today.
For instance, Minnier highlighted the role information technology employees play. Some work in hospitals directly alongside clinicians, ensuring patient care continues smoothly with support from UPMC’s robust technology infrastructure.
“Vaccinating all UPMC employees is essential to our ability to continue providing world-class care,” Minnier said. She also noted that the vast majority of COVID-19 exposures for UPMC staff that result in infection or quarantine occur outside UPMC facilities, but still can have a profound impact on hospital operations.
Under the direction of the Commonwealth, UPMC also has begun administering vaccines to health sciences students and frontline health care workers who are not directly employed by a hospital or health system. And UPMC has implemented vaccination programs for residents and staff at its long-term care facilities.
Updated federal guidelines now recommend vaccinating all individuals over the age of 65 and authorize the administration of all available doses, instead of reserving supplies for those who will soon need their second doses.
As more information on the activation of these guidelines becomes available, UPMC will be ready to expand its vaccination capabilities to ensure the health and safety of the communities it serves, Minnier noted.