Pacific among first to massively increase vaccine distribution
University of the Pacific was selected by Blue Shield of California to be among the first universities in the state to administer the COVID-19 vaccine under a new provider network, providing the university capacity to fully vaccinate every student who is enrolled on Pacific’s three campuses.
The partnership will allow the university to significantly expand its vaccination efforts in its Stockton and San Francisco campus regions and begin dissemination in Sacramento.
"We will now be able to vaccinate every student who is enrolled on our three campuses as well as every faculty and staff member,” said Maria Pallavicini, university provost and head of Pacific's COVID-19 council. "As the only Northern California private university with a school of health sciences, a dental school and pharmacy school, Pacific is uniquely positioned to help widen distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and work towards making our entire communities safer."
Pacific’s faculty and students have administered more than 7,500 COVID-19 vaccines during more than a dozen clinics in Stockton and San Francisco. The Blue Shield of California partnership gives Pacific access to a streamlined and consistent flow of vaccine doses that allows the university to open vaccinations to all students for the first time.
Upcoming immunization events begin this weekend and are scheduled for May and June on the Stockton Campus for all residents of San Joaquin County age 16 and older.
The university plans to soon open clinics in Sacramento in collaboration with Pacific’s physician assistant studies students and will continue providing vaccinations to campus and community members in San Francisco with the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. A vaccination event also will take place during the first week of Back to Pacific: Ready, Set, Roar!, a five-week summer session in July that will give students a head start on the 2021–22 school year.
Scout Cooper-Wilson ’22, ASuop president for the 2021–22 academic year, is eager to get back on campus and welcomes this new collaboration.
“I would just encourage everyone to educate themselves if they feel any hesitation about getting the vaccine,” Cooper-Wilson said. “I believe that it’s very important and necessary. We all want to be back on campus so badly and if getting the vaccine is what will do that, I just hope that everyone who can get vaccinated will.”
Pacific is encouraging all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated.
"The safety of the university and local communities is always our highest priority," said Pacific President Christopher Callahan. "Vaccinations are a critical component in our efforts to mitigate risk and protect one another’s health within our student environment, which will support our ability to return to a more vibrant campus environment in the fall with the full range of activities and services that are essential to our students’ success."
Blue Shield, the state of California’s third-party administrator for the new vaccine network, selected eligible providers who can help improve access to the vaccines equitably, efficiently and as quickly as possible. Its provider list with more than 400 participants includes Pacific as one of the few universities authorized to participate.
Because the university was proactive in becoming an early vaccination hub—in part thanks to Pacific’s pharmacy program, which had the specialized freezer required to store the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines—Pacific will request and store Pfizer doses during a time when some providers cannot.
“We’ve had many more clinics than we would have thought even possible,” said Veronica Bandy, clinical professor in the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy, due in large part to the students who have stepped up to organize and run the clinics and the many volunteers who have come out on the weekends to assist with everything from check-in to checking on people after the vaccine is administered.
“The community has been so grateful as they come through, not only for being able to get appointments, but to have a nice process, to be outdoors, they feel safe,” Bandy said. “Our community has found that we are accessible and open and welcoming to our campus. They see our students and faculty members who are stepping up.”