Enrique Rivero

Newswise — The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has received a $4.9 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among health care workers. 

The yearlong project, Preventing Emerging Infections through Vaccine Effectiveness Testing (PREVENT), will be conducted with the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine and will enroll 10,000 health care personnel at 16 academic medical centers across the county, including Olive View–UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, California.  

Researchers will study both vaccinated and non-vaccinated health care workers who get tested for the virus after experiencing common COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough or a loss of sense of taste or smell. The study will compare the incidence of positive COVID-19 tests among both groups, as well as the severity of the illness in those who test positive. The results will help researchers determine how effective the vaccines are at preventing infection and lessening the impact of infections when they do occur.

Dr. David Talan, a professor of emergency medicine and of medicine and infectious diseases in the UCLA Department of Emergency Medicine, will lead the trial with co-principal investigator Dr. Nicholas Mohr, a professor of emergency medicine, anesthesia and epidemiology at the University of Iowa.

“Health care workers all across the world have stepped up to meet the overwhelming needs of patients, families and communities during the pandemic and have been prioritized to be the first offered the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Talan, who is an attending physician in the emergency department at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “We have an obligation to learn as much as we can about the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.” 

There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in circulation, one from Pfizer–BioNTech, one from Moderna and one from Johnson & Johnson. Health care personnel across the U.S. are now receiving the vaccines. 

“With vaccines now approved, we are entering an important next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mohr said. “Studying the experiences of health care personnel will give us insights into how we can protect both health care workers and the general public once vaccines are more widely available.” 

Olive View–UCLA health care personnel who are interested in participating and have been tested for COVID-19 should take the survey here. If selected, participants will receive $50. 

PREVENT is a collaboration between EMERGEncy ID NET — a CDC-supported network led by Talan that comprises 12 U.S. emergency departments and focuses on studying emerging infectious diseases — and a previously assembled group of sites that worked under Project COVERED, another CDC-funded effort to assess the risk to emergency department providers of acquiring COVID-19 through direct patient contact and to determine ways to mitigate that risk. 

In addition to Olive View–UCLA and the University of Iowa, the other participating medical centers are: University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center; Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Missouri; Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts; University of Washington in Seattle; Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; Valleywise Hospital in Phoenix; University of Chicago; Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami; University Medical Center in New Orleans; University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham; University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson; University of California, San Francisco, Fresno; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.