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University receives first COVID-19 vaccines, starts immediate inoculations

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Dr. Linda Nelson, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), RN, pediatric nurse practitioner, and senior director of Clinical Operations for the UTRGV School of Medicine and UT Health RGV, welcomes the UPS delivery truck carrying the 1,950 COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

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By UTRGV News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – UTRGV received 1,950 COVID-19 vaccines, to be administered in the afternoon to the university’s healthcare providers and support staff. 

The number of vaccines is determined by the State of Texas and the federal government, which are overseeing distribution of the vaccine to frontline providers. 

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Dr. John H. Krouse, UTRGV executive vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said everything is in place at UTRGV at for an organized, first-phase distribution of the vaccine. 

“The UTRGV School of Medicine and its care team, UT Health RGV, are working diligently to ensure that vaccines are administered safely and efficiently to our campus recipients,” Krouse said. 

The vaccine, developed by Pfizer, was granted emergency authorization by the federal government for use on healthcare workers and support staff. 

At UTRGV, frontline personnel have been identified as high priority because of their heightened exposure to the virus and because of their need to stay healthy to support others as cases surge in the Valley and across the country. 

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Those who have been determined to receive the initial vaccine already have been notified or will be notified this week.  

UT Health RGV will administer the vaccine based on guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Dr. Linda Nelson, senior director of Clinical Operations for the UTRGV School of Medicine and UT Health RGV, unpacks the COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday. UTRGV will begin administering the vaccine starting in the afternoon to the university’s healthcare providers and support staff. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike)

BROADER DISTRIBUTION 

Krouse said UTRGV continues to work closely with the state and federal governments as they make decisions on when the vaccine will be accessible to the general public. 

Supplies will increase over time, he said, and it is anticipated the vaccine will be available to all adults later in 2021. 

Federal health officials estimate that at least 80 million people could be vaccinated by spring, including the UTRGV campus community. At least 75 percent of all adults could be vaccinated by September. 

He urged continued caution and adherence to the safety protocols, to include wearing a mask, washing our hands frequently, and maintaining six feet of distance from others. 

“As we await broader distribution of the vaccine, please continue doing your part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to social-distancing guidelines developed by the CDC, especially during the holiday season,” he said. 

For more information, visit the UT Health RGV and Commitment to Safety and Success webpages for the latest operational update, protocols and guidelines regarding COVID-19. 

Krouse said he encourages everyone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available. 

“The vaccine, along with following social-distancing protocols and guidelines, will allow us to curtail the effect of the virus on our communities. I am eager to receive the vaccine and I hope you will decide to do the same when the opportunity arises,” he said. 

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