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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego's Vaccine Rollout Leaders Reflect On Progress, Look Ahead To Next Steps

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A second vaccine, this one from Moderna, has been approved for emergency use.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego County healthcare workers received the first doses of a COVID 19 vaccine from Pfizer last week. And the second emergency approved COVID-19 vaccine developed by Medina should be heading here soon County public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten and health and human services director. Nick [inaudible] spoke with KPBS health reporter Taryn mento to provide an update on the rollout and discuss the challenges ahead. How has the rollout gone

Speaker 2: 00:28 So far? So far has gone, uh, very well. Uh, as you know, we've gotten just over 28,000 doses. So, so far I've heard, uh, stories from many of the hospitals systems they've gotten. The providers have, uh, uh, attain their vaccination and things are going well. I'll just add, uh, turn that, uh, talking with, uh, some of the hospitals CMOs talking to my own medical director County, psych hospital, um, just the amazing turnout. Um, you know, we didn't know, or, you know, people are gonna show up and it's been done in a very, uh, calm and orderly way, uh, but with great urgency. And so, uh, I can tell you like for our County psych hospital and our first day when we scheduled, I think with the exception of a handful of folks that we had to reschedule, uh, almost everyone else was there. We got, uh, and got their back backseat. And so I think that's a great indication thus far, uh, of the, uh, um, healthcare workers lining up getting their vaccine and the understanding that we're going to have to do this in a phased approach, obviously as Dr. Ruth pointed out, as we get more,

Speaker 1: 01:43 Is there an unexpected challenge, you know, that came your way. And how did you work around that?

Speaker 2: 01:49 We received a small number of doses to date. So things so far have gone. Well, there are no particular challenges that I'm aware of, but we know that we are getting more vaccine. We anticipate that we will get vaccine after the, my Dharna, uh, vaccines or go through the various approval processes with the FDA and CDC. And then we will get, there are six different vaccines that will be coming down the pike. So we'll be getting for other vaccinations, but I feel confident that we'll be able to manage that because we have the San Diego immunization registry and we can determine who's been vaccinated or not. And what that scene they received and providers will be checking that a FTIR so that they make sure they give, uh, individuals the appropriate vaccine when they come in for vaccination. You know, the, the challenge is that the way that the vaccine arrives, um, is for us, for our hospitals, 13 hospitals or so, um, you know, four of them are getting a directly and then nine come through us. So it'd be nice if it was one air traffic control, but, you know, we have multiple. And so it requires that extra challenge of communicating to make sure that we're getting our fair share, uh, of vaccine into the region. And so that's communicating with our hospital partners, which has again, has worked great because of the cooperation and collaboration we have.

Speaker 1: 03:20 We know that decisions on allocations where things are going, a priority groups are set by federal and state agencies, but I know that the counties clinical advisory group was talking about approaching their mission through the L through an equity lens. And so w what control over equitable distribution does the County have, and how would you be relying on this advisory group to inform that?

Speaker 2: 03:46 Well, the first important thing is to know is that we do not get all of the vaccines at one time, if that was the case, we could facilitate everyone, uh, being vaccinating in the various phases, as well as the tiers, the area where the advisory committee, uh, will, uh, or could a well help is with, Hey, the one seat, which is those individuals with underlying medical conditions and 65 years of age and older. And also when that seems odd to be deliberate to a young adults, 30 years and younger, and then the general population. So we will have discussions about that. Uh, actually the next meeting I believe is Tuesday. So we will have discussions about that. It comes to a point when you get into some categories, um, even sub categories, depending on how much vaccine is available, um, to your point, um, how do we look at how the pandemic impacts place in people?

Speaker 2: 04:45 And it impacts placing people differently. Uh, we, we just have to look itself back, uh, to understand that. And, uh, and I would add place people and providers because our hospitals are more adversely impact in South, but so where we have that discretion, um, and I say, we, our clinical advisory, uh, and that's why it's, it's fantastic to have leaders across the County, in the community, in public health, in systems coming together and saying, you know, how do we ensure, um, that we get it as best to the right folks at the right time, based on the limitations we have. And that's when you start talking about that, we may not be seeing, uh, as we go further in this distribution, a kind of cookie cutter approach because of the pandemic is spread across, but it is impacting people in place and providers differently and, and using a health equity lens, kind of guide you in those discussions. And that's in fact, where I think more of the clinical advisory group we'll be having in the coming weeks,

Speaker 1: 05:48 You know, the next group in the second tier of phase one a is skilled nursing facilities. And they're, um, we already talked about the overlap with the County, the state in terms of shipping and allocating and, and getting it to the right places. So with skilled nursing facilities, is that going to be handled by the County or the state, or is there overlap there as well?

Speaker 2: 06:09 What we're literally doing is ensuring that no one is left behind. And what I mean by that is working with the list that we get from the state, working with Walgreens and CVS of who they have covered so that the remaining are the ones we immediately focused on. Um, they are a highest priority. I mean, as you follow the tiers right in the rollout. So, um, as we speak, we have a whole team focusing on and trying to get to determine who is remaining. That's not covered by the pharmacies so that we can then, um, reach. And then this is an inReach because in these facilities, they can't come to a site, right. We have to go into them. And so this is a, um, uh, kind of, uh, uh, a unprecedented effort to, to get to this sector, to this magnitude in, in a, in a rapid way.

Speaker 2: 07:04 So we're working on, and we'll be releasing pretty soon, really novel approaches activating, um, our workforce that remember, could only be, uh, licensed physicians or nurses or paramedics or so forth. So being as creative in our ways of the workforce that we have to get into these facilities, many of which you do not have a nurse, you know, skilled nursing facilities are different, and yet they still need assistance from the farm, the retail pharmacies, the long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities. May some of them may not have a, you know, a nurse as readily available, just snaps. So tremendous amount of thought has been going on into, um, how do we get to them throughout our County? We've already mapped them out. And then that's kind of, that's the work that's happening as we speak. And as vaccine comes in and we know who is again, not, we already canvas that's when we start getting into those facilities.

Speaker 1: 08:01 One of the things that keeps coming up is, um, whether places can mandate or will mandate someone getting the vaccine. What, what would be your role in supporting or endorsing businesses asking people to, or holding them to getting it, and what will the County do for its own employees? When it comes their time in the, in the schedule

Speaker 2: 08:21 At this point, I have no plan to mandate. And in the general public, we can't mandate, the people have the right to make their own decisions. They have the right to make their own decisions. We will educate them and ensure that they understand the rationale for the recommendations that at the end of the day, if they want don't want to be vaccinated in their input, some there might be reasons why medical reasons why they can't, but, uh, at this point, no plan for mandating the vaccination

Speaker 1: 08:52 That was KPBS health reporter, Taryn, Mentos speaking with the counties, Nick [inaudible] and Dr. Wilma boudin.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.