‘Operation 1 Shot’
UPMC Enacts Mass Flu Vaccination Program
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, UPMC health care officials created a plan to provide mass vaccinations.
During an online news conference Tuesday, UPMC doctors discussed how they implemented “Operation One Shot” as a rapid mass flu vaccination plan for its health care workers. Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC Emergency Medicine Department senior medical director, said the plan for the mass flu vaccination operation was in place prior to COVID-19 to practice for a potential pandemic.
“The situation we were planning to simulate is becoming a reality,” he said.
Yealy said health care workers are one of the first to receive a vaccination for any type of infectious disease so they can treat the ill.
The mass flu vaccination effort for all UPMC employees was done with the goal to be ready once there is a COVID-19 vaccination. He said several UMPC locations participated in the mass flu vaccination operation, however, UPMC Chautauqua was not mentioned as one of the participating hospitals. The plan helped UPMC get its staff through in a timely fashion while still practicing social distancing. He added that at least 70% of the staff in the participating hospitals received a flu shot.
Yealy said some of the facilities had a 100% participating rate, which he said is rare in that short of time. He said the average facility usually doesn’t have all personnel vaccinated for seven to eight weeks.
“One shot did it in a matter of days,” he said. “We know how to roll out vaccinations faster now.”
Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC infection prevention and hospital epidemiology medical director, said there is good news from the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season is almost done. He said because of masking and social distancing being practiced by people, there was less spread of the flu this winter.
“That’s not to say skip your flu shot,” he said.
Dr. David A. Nace, UPMC Senior Communities chief medical officer, said without a vaccine wearing a mask is the best way to avoid being infected.
“We very clearly know … masking does make a difference. It reduces the spread and the severity,” he said.
During the question portion of the news conference, the doctors were asked why it seems there are more cases now being reported of children 5 to 18 years old. Yealy said with the start of school, children are now more active, which increases the possibility of being infected. Snyder said it was expected to see more children infected once school restarted.
“The important part is how to respond to the cases,” he said.
The doctors were also asked a questions about people returning to live sporting events. Yealy said if people attend live sporting events it should depend greatly on if the event is inside or outdoors, with outdoors being the better option with more space and the outside air. He said if people follow the guidelines, like wearing a mask and social distancing, that these principals are the answers to questions about whether schools should reopen, fans being allowed to attend live sporting events and should child be allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.
“The same basic principals is what will keep everybody safe,” he said.