Wednesday, December 16, 2020

UI Health Care begins first employee COVID-19 vaccinations

On Monday, University of Iowa Health Care was the first in the state to begin vaccinating employees against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In this video, emergency department nurse David Conway receives the first of two doses, the second of which must be administered in three to four weeks.

UI Health Care received about 1,000 doses in the initial shipment and since Monday has administered the first dose to more than 175 employees, primarily frontline providers and staff working in units that directly care for patients with COVID-19.

The vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday, Dec. 11, and is prioritized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for health care workers and those who live and work in long-term care facilities.

Planning for campus

As more vaccines are approved and more vaccine doses are manufactured and distributed, the CDC will open access to and prioritization for other non-health care population groups. The university will follow the CDC recommendations for immunizing non-health care critical function employees. This may take several weeks or even months, so we ask for your patience.

Keep up those safety measures

It will take time for everyone who wants to be vaccinated to receive the required doses. Until then, all of us must continue to take the steps necessary to protect ourselves and our community. You should continue to wear a face mask, avoid large gatherings, maintain social distance, and frequently wash your hands.

Mental health resources: Things to remember as 2020 draws to a close

As 2020 draws to a close, your University of Iowa campus mental health providers want to thank you for persevering this semester, given the COVID pandemic, racialized violence, and political tensions that have affected how we previously worked, taught, practiced, socialized, and studied. We wish you continued health, well-being, and safety, and offer a few things to practice as we prepare to welcome a new year.

  • You may wish for a return to “normal.” So much has changed, so it is important to imagine your new and changed world and what you will do to navigate the changes that will be more permanent.
  • Leaning into the new future takes strength. You have persevered because of your own resilience and the strength of your community and family. You can and will make it even further.
  • Feeling badly doesn’t mean you are doing badly. Just because you feel badly about the many disappointments and losses you may be experiencing does not mean you have a mental health problem. Struggling with motivation, productivity, and other things can be normal reactions to managing more these days.
  • Filter out the sea of media information. If you cannot learn the news in 30 minutes or less each day, it is not worth knowing that day. Give yourself a break.
  • Who is in your “first line of defense?” Seeking help from professionals is great, but you already may have a support network and turning to the people who know you best can be a first line of defense when you need support.
  • It is OK to not be OK with how things are now. If you are struggling emotionally, remember the world is in true turmoil and you may be simply reacting to that. You can still be OK even when the world is not. You do not have to like any of this.
  • Destigmatize your reactions. Consider that you may be feeling stressed, sad, and/or angry about things that are stressful, sad, and angering. There is no need to necessarily label your reactions as a disorder.
  • This is temporary and will pass. Perspective is hard to keep during unprecedented challenging times, but remember you have come this far and the days will once again get longer, and the weather will once again get warmer. You can do this!
  • Know when to ask for help. Your coping skills, support systems, and resilience may not be enough. If that is the case, you need to know where to turn. This may be a therapist, religious leader, community healer, or someone else, but know where you can go to ask for help. Specific to the UI campus community, remember the University Counseling Service, the Employee Assistance Program, and the Office of Care and Assistance are here for you.

For more information about mental health resources, see

For counseling and support, the Employee Assistance Program offers confidential counseling at no cost for UI employees and their families; or University Counseling Service offers confidential counseling and support for students.

Campus operations

The university continues to monitor self-reported COVID-19 testing data on campus, while also tracking state, region, and national COVID-19 infection rates. The university will continue to follow the latest guidance from the CDC in coordination with Johnson County Public Health, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

Johnson County positive cases

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Dec. 14, 2020.

The University of Iowa has published an updated snapshot of self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff, and students.

Number of self-reported cases of COVID-19


  • New cases: 6
  • Semester-to-date: 2,796


  • New cases: 6
  • Semester-to-date: 321

These numbers reflect only self-reported positive or presumed positive COVID-19 tests from UI faculty, staff, and students on the academic campus since Aug. 18, 2020. These data will not match data reported by UI Hospitals & Clinics or by the Iowa Department of Public Health for several reasons, including different testing time intervals and geographic scope. Students who also are employees of the university are only reported in the student number to avoid double counting. The UI has more than 30,000 students and nearly 30,000 employees. Many employees continue to work remotely but have self-reported to authorize sick leave.

Number of residence hall students in quarantine: 0*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 2**

*Quarantine: Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.

**Self-isolation: Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are symptomatic and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.