UCSF estimates it prevented 500 employee infections through vaccination

Although the University of California-San Francisco reported 183 employees or students testing positive for COVID-19 in July, it estimates hundreds of infections were prevented because of vaccination. 

UCSF spokesperson Kristen Bole said Aug. 2 those 183 cases are from a population of 35,000 people and were identified through routine testing, screening and contact tracing programs. Most people had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, she said.

Eighty percent of the UCSF infections involved UCSF Health employees, and only two people were exposed in the workplace. The remainder acquired COVID-19 in the their community or home, said Ms. Bole. Of the 183 people who tested positive in July, 153 had been vaccinated and 30 had not. Only two individuals have required hospitalization — one had been vaccinated, the other had not.

"These results reflect how highly effective the vaccines remain, even after seven months, in some cases. For perspective, without vaccinations, we would expect to have seen 767 COVID-19 cases during that time, given the current positivity rate among those UCSF individuals who have not been vaccinated," Ms. Bole said.

As cases rise amid the spread of the delta variant, Ms. Bole said UCSF is "doubling down on our efforts to protect our staff," including requiring employees and trainees to comply with the University of California's vaccination mandate, with limited exceptions for medical or religious reasons. UCSF has also reinstated its masking requirement for staff, patients and visitors, as well as at-home quarantines for those who have been exposed to COVID-19.

UCSF is not the only San Francisco institution that has seen staff members test positive. 

At Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, 55 of the more than 7,000 hospital staff members tested positive, as of July 31, said hospital spokesperson Cristina Padilla. The hospital said it did not know of any of the infected staff who had been hospitalized.

Ms. Padilla said the infections primarily occurred through community exposure. 

"ZSFG continues to follow strict infection control measures, including daily self-screening of staff, requiring masks on campus, and testing of all admitted patients. To avoid further exposures, infected staff are in quarantine in their homes, and we have plans in place to ensure we have enough staff coverage," she said.  

As of July 30, San Francisco was averaging 176 new COVID-19 cases daily, a tenfold increase since the beginning of June, according to the city's department of public health.

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