(Answers edited slightly)
Distribution And Scheduling Questions
How are the vaccinations being distributed currently and what role does the county have in the distribution process? (Andrew Goldfrach*, COO Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and Head of County’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force)
The county received our allocation from the state based on population size as well as a few other factors on a weekly basis. There are currently four methods in which vaccines are distributed within the county. However, the county really only has input into two of them. Prior to the county receiving its allocation, the state does direct doses. We prioritize our distribution across the county based on access, accessibility and earlier volume. We're very heavily also focused on vulnerable populations.
I was told the county recently conducted a training exercise that included more than 70 providers and staff to prepare for these large-scale distribution sites. Can you speak to how the coordination came together? (Corwin Porter*, San Bernardino County Director of Public Health)
Yes, we had 70. And then some. It happens so fast that things change almost daily. But we actually, last week, had 160 folks that were brought to us by the state from across the country to support our vaccination efforts. 100 vaccinators are part of that group and about 60 support staff. They came in buses, and they've been supporting us for about a week and a half. So, we're grateful for those. But the county has also brought on 176 new hires, many of those are LVNs or medical assistants, as well as support staff to basically help us stand up these vaccination sites. We're excited to see the participation of our community members and other partners across the country stepping up to help us succeed in this vaccination effort. And I was told as the folks get off the bus from other parts of the country, they were extremely excited to be on the ground helping make a difference and helping in this pandemic. So, a great experience.
How has the county prepared for receiving and distributing the vaccine? (Andrew Goldfrach)
The county has really created a web of distribution sites, ranging from physician practices, pharmacies, or large-scale sites that are either run by hospitals like Dr. Cotton’s. This network really is a great example of how the partnership between both public and private sectors work together. Every week, our team receives the allocation that's provided to the county by the state, and then works with our vaccination partners to allocate and distribute the vaccine. As mentioned before, and our goal is to utilize the entire inventory within four days of us receiving our supply.
On average, how long should it take for an individual to receive their initial vaccine appointment? (Andrew Goldfrach)
Unfortunately, the time period can vary, and I know that that is frustrating. As vaccines do become available, appointments are created, and they're posted on our COVID-19 website. As allocation numbers to the county become more stable, we will be able to project appointments further out by more and more weeks. We are working with all of our private partners to provide links to their vaccination sites on our website. So that way we continue to generate and create that web from a second dose perspective.
And what is the process to schedule their second vaccine? (Andrew Goldfrach)
Currently, from the county sites we are sending an email with a link to sign up for the second dose, approximately one week before that dose. However, we started to change that process. While vaccine recipients complete their 15-minute waiting period, they are registered for their second dose. If it's for Pfizer: 21 days or 28 days, and there is a little bit of wiggle room from that exact date. We are also going to be moving – as most counties are – from the current state system to a state registration system called “My Turn.” One of the benefits of My Turn is that it allows individuals to schedule their first and second doses at the exact same time.
School Staff Questions
What would be the necessary steps for teachers and support staff to get vaccinated now that they have been included in Phase 1A? (Andrew Goldfrach)
We are currently working very closely with the different school districts and county offices who put together the vaccination plans for schools right now. Conversations are still ongoing. And we look to have further communication with the school districts and county.
Will there be a reserve of vaccines specifically for teachers, if so, how long will it take to subsidize those vaccines for remaining teachers? (Andrew Goldfrach)
Unfortunately, I don’t have that answer yet. As we’re still in discussion with the school districts on the rollout party for vaccinations.