University of California Health (UCH) announced today (April 26) that it has administered one million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, marking a significant milestone in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than 60,000 people in California.

“We’ve been in a race between the spread of the virus and the pace of vaccination since the moment the first shipment of vaccine arrived in mid-December. Our goal was and is clear – get shots into the arms of Californians as quickly as possible, beginning with those at the highest risk of exposure and serious illness,” said Carrie L. Byington, M.D., an infectious disease expert and executive vice president of UCH. “The million-shot milestone is symbolically meaningful and an event to celebrate with all of our employees, students, and trainees. There isn’t a moment to rest because the pandemic is not over.”

UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D., administering COVID-19 vaccinations to a person at a community pop-up immunization hub in San Francisco’s Mission District.
UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D., administering COVID-19 vaccinations this spring at a community pop-up immunization hub in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Credit: University of California

Administering one million doses required 83,333 person hours, with each shot taking approximately five minutes to draw, administer, complete the vaccination card and sterilize the fixtures before the next vaccination. This effort was the equivalent of 130 employees working full time for 16 weeks. These figures do not include the logistical, IT and administrative personnel support required to vaccinate nearly 800,000 people. 

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH), UCH began vaccinating its group 1A employees who work in patient care areas on Dec. 16, 2020, including doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and those in housekeeping, maintenance, patient transport and other areas. 

Image of a UCSF medical professional giving a COVID-19 vaccine dose to William Wyatt who was the first frontline health care hero at UCSF to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
On December 16, 2020, senior custodian William Wyatt was the first frontline health care hero at UCSF to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Credit: UCSF Health

“We took an equitable approach,” said Byington. “If you worked in a patient care area, you were eligible. The virus doesn’t distinguish by title, role or seniority, and neither did we.” 

As fast as vaccine shipments came in, appointment invitations were sent and appointments booked by eligible people. Within a matter of weeks, UCH reached more than 87,000 of its systemwide group 1A-eligible population. Vaccine acceptance rose over time to 91 percent for the group. 

Cars in line for COVID-19 vaccination appointments at the check-in area at Petco Park in San Diego.
People line up in their cars for COVID-19 vaccination appointments at Petco Park in San Diego.
Credit: UC San Diego Health

On January 11, UC expanded its vaccination delivery work when UC San Diego Health, under the leadership of CEO Patty Maysent, opened a drive-thru vaccination center at Petco Park to begin immunizing health care workers employed by other hospitals and health facilities. Later, the Petco Park site began serving other prioritized tiers, ultimately providing more than 200,000 vaccinations. Similar vaccination initiatives occurred across UCH, with UC’s academic health centers and health professional schools working in partnership with community groups and public health departments to provide education, testing and vaccinations to high-risk communities. 

Carrie L. Byington, M.D., University of California Health executive vice president and an infectious disease expert, administering COVID-19 vaccinations to a person in a car at the Petco Park site this spring.
Carrie L. Byington, M.D., University of California Health executive vice president and an infectious disease expert, administering COVID-19 vaccinations at the Petco Park site this spring.
Credit: University of California Health

UCH’s vaccination progress was accomplished while simultaneously treating more than 8,200 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the UCH system, including the winter surge of infections. “It has been, and will continue to be, a team effort,” added Byington. “I could not be more proud of all the people across UC who are rising to meet every challenge and working to end the pandemic."