COVID vaccinations have been proceeding with alacrity since the first doses arrived in Colorado in mid-December and the numbers have been remarkable. Of particular note, UCHealth has delivered 43,000 doses of vaccine, with only one dose lost due to a faulty needle assembly. Richard Zane, MD, chair of emergency medicine, has been leading UCHealth’s effort and he and the team are managing the complicated logistics of running the hospital system’s 10 vaccine clinics and three pop-up clinics. There are two vaccines – one manufactured by Pfizer, the other by Moderna. The vaccines have separate schedules for booster shots – one requires a second shot three weeks after the first, the other calls for a second shot four weeks after the first.
Obviously, it is a significantly complex process to organize, to implement, and to keep track of. For the health care providers of the Anschutz Medical Campus community, that means doing our part when we are called to get our shots. To keep the process on track, UCHealth is requiring first and second dose appointments be made upon initial scheduling. It means there are almost no cases where a shot can be rescheduled, so do not set up vaccination appointments if you have a conflict on your calendar. If you have clinical, social, academic, or any other obligations, do not set up an appointment for a shot. All available appointments for vaccinations are being filled, so there are no opportunities to fit in extra shots for people who do not plan accordingly. According to Rich, the only reasons a rescheduling can be considered are immediate threat to life, limb, or eyesight, unanticipated military deployment, death of a primary family member, and confirmed or suspected active COVID infection.
Gov. Jared Polis last week addressed Colorado’s vaccine rollout and explained that his goal is to get shots to people as quickly as possible. He previously had announced that people 70 years and older were eligible for shots in the first phase of vaccinations, which triggered concerns because others in that phase had not yet been vaccinated. While some have complained, the COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Colorado have been outpacing the rollout in many other states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker shows that Colorado has received 381,775 doses of vaccine, and 145,164 shots have been administered. Nationally, 22.1 million doses have been distributed and as of Friday morning, 6.7 million people have received their first dose of vaccine. The CDC report says vaccinations have been administered at a rate of 2,521 per 100,000 of the population in Colorado, ranking the state No. 18 in administering shots. Vaccinating health care workers on our campus has been underway since vaccines arrived in December, with some of our campus community receiving their second doses this past week. We are extremely grateful to our campus partners for all their efforts to coordinate and give the vaccinations and we want to particularly thank them for including our students in their vaccination administration plans.
Last Wednesday, our nation’s Capitol was attacked by a horde seeking to prevent the Congress from fulfilling its Constitutional responsibility of accepting the results of last November’s presidential election. The invasion of the building endangered lives of elected officials and Capitol Hill staffers who had assembled to conduct the ritual acceptance of Electoral College votes. The insurrection is inconsistent with our nation’s traditions and the behavior of the rioters abuses the freedoms that have made our country great. Unfortunately, an accumulation of lies and conspiracy theories has poisoned the national discourse and set aside the centuries-old norm of a peaceful transition of power between administrations.
Rep. Jason Crow, who represents the Congressional district that includes the Anschutz Medical Campus, was in the gallery of the House as the rioters attempted to break down the doors to the chamber. In an article in the Denver Post, Crow, who was U.S. Army Ranger, described the experience of helping his colleagues use their emergency gas masks. “I got into Ranger mode a little bit,” he said. A dramatic photo published by the New York Post shows Crow holding the hand of Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania to provide comfort during the raid. The photos are shocking and heartbreaking to all who love our country.
The act of building is much harder than tearing down. It takes humility to recognize that we are advancing work started by others; it takes a willingness to listen to one another; it requires a mutual and honest acceptance of the evidence and data to evaluate needs, create a plan, and deliver results on a continuous basis. In recent years, we have seen careless attention to necessary investment in essential needs, a reckless dismantling of safeguards that protect us, and a wanton disregard by many leaders for anyone who does not unthinkingly agree with them.
As members of the academic medical community, we develop our individual knowledge and skills so that we can work in concert for the common good. When acute injury presents, we work as quickly as possible to minimize the harm. Ultimately, we study the causes of the injury, but first we address what needs to heal. The breach of the Capitol must be reviewed and the protections there must be improved. Chronic conditions, though, take time to resolve. In the aftermath of this violent attack, we must bind wounds and break the fever. The willingness of so many of our fellow Americans to storm the citadel of our democracy has deep-rooted causes: desperation, ignorance, malice. We do not cure such problems only by condemning the behavior. We must address the causes of that behavior. As a society, we need to improve our schools, strengthen our economies, nurture respect for one another, and help others achieve goals that are for the betterment of all. Doing this will require civil discourse and a willingness to engage in bipartisan cooperation.
The Dean’s Office is saying happy retirement to Shelley Wall, who has been an outstanding member of the administrative team, serving for several years in the Office of Clinical Affairs. Prior to the working-from-home restrictions caused by COVID-19, Shelley was a sunny presence in the offices and hallways of the Fitzsimons Building. We’ll miss her dependable and friendly help corralling clinical leadership for the array of meetings needed to run the School.
The State of the School Address will be Wednesday, January 13, at 4 p.m. via Zoom webinar. All are invited.
There will be no message next week due to the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.
Have a good week,
John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Richard D. Krugman Endowed Chair
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and
Dean, School of Medicine