An OCH partner at Jefferson Healthcare reached out to Olympic Community of Health with a request to convene hospitals, local health departments, and large medical providers to discuss COVID-19 immunization logistics. As the Accountable Community of Health in the Olympic region, OCH is uniquely positioned to bring together health partners across county, sector, and Tribe, to collaboratively tackle local health issues.
On December 4, OCH convened regional partners on the topic of COVID-19 immunization planning. The goal of the call was to collect ideas to move forward in an effective, efficient, and unified path forward. 16 partners were in attendance with representation from Forks Community Hospital, Olympic Medical Center (OMC), Jefferson Healthcare, St. Michael Medical Center, North Olympic Healthcare Network, and all three local health departments. With the guidance of the region’s Health Officers, the group discussed the following topics.
Findings by Theme
Employee Notification and Distribution
What to expect once receiving the COVID-19 immunization:
No immediate relaxation of PPE with or without vaccine. Everyone will need to maintain safety precautions for the near future regardless of immunization status.
Those who get vaccinated will get a proof of immunization card.
A non-medical benefit of immunization may include ability to travel.
At first, demand for vaccine will be greater than available supply.
Proposed regional target is > 70% population immunized
Flu-like symptoms are a common side effect of the vaccine.
Healthcare workers, long term care workers, and first responders are prioritized in the vaccine distributions. Distribution to the general public will come after.
Most people will need two doses, spread across a few weeks, before they will be immunized
Strategies for immunization refusal among high-risk staff?
Jefferson County Health Officer, Dr. Locke suggests respecting staff who are uncomfortable and refuse the vaccine. Let those individuals get out of line, and they can step back in (not go to end of line) when/if they become comfortable. Start with “pull” mode – where those who are willing and qualify get vaccinated. Later go to “push” mode to incentivize people to take the vaccine.
Scheduling Systems: Immunization administration strategies
Point of Dispensing (POD) Model–A large venue, like a gym or somewhere with a lot of parking, with multiple lines for vaccination. This model is an efficient setup to immunize 500+ individuals in one day (requires multiple days for prep and paperwork before and after).
Ideal to thaw vaccine same day of use. Inventory wise – use up vaccine as it is received (don’t hold back for 2nd doses). While there are minimum intervals between dose 1 and dose 2, no maximum interval has been established.
Specialized Freezers (cold enough to hold the Pfizer vaccine):
Olympic Medical Center (OMC) has freezer and applied for vaccine, expect to receive 975 doses initially. Clallam County Health Officer, Dr. Unthank shared that OMC’s freezer is large enough to accommodate for the community. OMC is planning to administer at one location in Port Angeles. Location and administration process TBD.
St. Michael Medical Center has freezer and applied for vaccine.
Olympic National Park Service has large freezer which may be available for storing vaccines but will not be receiving first round vaccines.
Jefferson Healthcare has a freezer and is considering purchasing a second freezer.
The skilled nursing facility at Forks Hospital has access to a freezer through a third party.
Providers are waiting for the Department of Health to announce who qualifies for Phase 1 Tier A vaccines. In the event where sub prioritization is needed, a regional set of criteria for the tiers would be beneficial.
Regional messaging and communication. Emphasizing that vaccines are prioritized by outcome not worthiness. Everyone is worthy of a vaccine, but there has to be a strategic prioritization that will benefit the region’s health as a whole.
Public health survey to identify number of health care staff by facility and region.
OCH will re-convene the group when additional information and clarification is provided by the Department of Health. The group will touch base on vaccine logistics, regional messaging, and distribution strategies.
OCH will meet with health department communication leads to discuss messaging alignment.
When appropriate, OCH will adapt the “Stay Strong, Olympic region” campaign to encourage community members to get the COVID-19 vaccine.