It’s barely more than a year since UConn Health started administering COVID-19 vaccinations, and over that time the state’s public academic medical center has administered more than 100,000 doses as of Monday, Jan. 10.
Abdullah Alfaraj, of Farmington, received the milestone 100,000th shot at the vaccine clinic in the Outpatient Pavilion on Monday afternoon. He and his wife, Fadila AlShubaini, came to UConn Health for their Pfizer boosters.
“I want to take care of myself, and my hope is this will protect me against COVID,” Alfaraj says.
Joanne Boucher, UConn Health’s director of ambulatory operations, says reaching 100,000 vaccinations is the product of remarkable teamwork.
“This is a huge milestone for UConn Health in our efforts to keep our employees and loved ones safe, as well as our community members across the state,” Boucher says. “This has been an all-hands-on-deck approach, with multiple vaccination clinics operating simultaneously across the state in efforts to assist our patients, various school systems, the University, and UConn Health. From our COVID operations team and staff, pharmacy, IT and electronic health record teams, to legal, there is an extraordinary amount of behind-the-scenes work and flexibility of these departments and employees to ensure we deliver safe patient care across the state of Connecticut.”
“A lot was unknown, and things changed rapidly across the first couple months, and being able to adapt quickly this past year with the introduction of additional doses, and expanded eligibility and age criteria, is a large accomplishment in itself,” says Jared Rosenblatt, one of the pharmacists closely involved in UConn Health’s COVID-19 vaccination program. “From nursing, to pharmacy, to IT, to physicians, to senior leadership, all the way to UConn students, this has truly been an amazing team effort alongside the state DPH. I cannot thank everyone who has helped out enough; it has been amazing to see all the hard work in such trying and ever-changing times.”
It has been amazing to see all the hard work in such trying and ever-changing times. — Jared Rosenblatt, UConn Health pharamcist
An undertaking of this magnitude comes with several challenges, he explains, including vaccine storage, documentation, vaccine hesitancy, getting hesitant patients to return for their second dose, and access — both meeting demand of the willing and reaching those who were reluctant.
“I think at this point in the pandemic, it is important to stress that vaccinations are helping to prevent severe cases and deaths,” Rosenblatt says. “People see the high positivity rate and lose faith in the efforts we have made thus far.”
But they shouldn’t lose faith, says Boucher, who’s a registered nurse.
“Every vaccine makes a difference, by decreasing risks of contracting COVID, decreasing severity of symptoms if you do contract COVID, and decreasing exposure risks with shorter quarantine time depending on the individual exposure,” she says. “If you haven’t been vaccinated and boosted, we highly recommend you schedule your appointment for the protection against the virus.”
According to data recently shared by the Dr. Kevin Dieckhaus, chief of UConn Health’s Infectious Diseases Division, a booster dose can raise protection against the omicron variant from an estimated 34% to 75%.