As California Opens Vaccine Eligibility For Those 50-Plus, Supply Problems Persist
Speaker 1: 00:00 All of those 50 and older are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting today. But being eligible is just the first step on the road to getting vaccinated. Next up is scheduling an appointment that is riddled with technology challenges and not enough appointments to meet the need. Dr. Bob Gillespie is a sharp physician and the medical director of the San Diego black nurses association. He joins us now, Dr. Gillespie. Speaker 2: 00:26 Welcome. Thank you very much. So first Speaker 1: 00:29 Tell me how you and the San Diego black nurses association are involved in the vaccination effort. Speaker 2: 00:34 One of the things that we've figured out early on, if you leave it to the grid, that is if it's the internet that guides therapy or intervention for vaccines for African-Americans in high risk populations, as much less likely to get done. And in fact, if you go into some of the areas that are on the grid in Southeast San Diego, San Diego, and other places, you won't see the demographic that you would expect to see at those sites getting back to nations. And there was a number of reasons for that internet access savvy with the internet hesitancy. So what we figured out and specifically San Diego black nurses figured out is that we really had to take it off the grid and to go to local churches and local community centers and have a targeted approach to vaccinating those at high risk that allowed us to not only go and get those a dedicated population to the point where we were able to vaccinate 97% or greater of the targeted population in those areas. But we also were given the opportunity to deal with any hesitancy issues that might come up. It would prevent others from getting vaccinated. In many cases, we're able to convince those who come with the primary vaccinating person, convinced them to get a vaccination. Also schedule one for a later day. Speaker 1: 01:49 Tell me more about the success you've had with doing these, uh, these clinics. I mean, do you have a sense of how many people you've, you've been able to get vaccinated? Speaker 2: 01:57 Yes, we do. In fact, if you look at the total events that we've done through San Diego, black nurses, as well as we have partnered with other groups, it's been over 2000 people who have been vaccinated, and this is move the needle. We believe from a number that roughly, if you looked at the statistics earlier in the month, if you looked at African Americans who had been vaccinated, it's been between two and 2.1% of the total population vaccinated, that's moved up to around 2.6% in about a month. And we make up the population in San Diego about 5.1%. So still very much under vaccinated compared to the population, but we've clearly made a dent. We think part of the data is what we've done as well as a number of other community organizations with the same mindset Speaker 1: 02:44 You mentioned while there's been a lot of success. The vaccination rate in the black community is still lower than all of the other ethnic groups in the County. Talk to me more about the reasons for that. Speaker 2: 02:54 Well, I think there's multiple reasons and I think some, we certainly know about the history in this country in terms of interaction with the medical system and concerns that many African-Americans have about that history and mistrust that's certainly is a component to what's going on, but I don't want to underestimate the importance of also just having events that are in our communities. Certainly if you look at flu vaccines or any other type of vaccine or delivered process, it usually goes better when it's delivered by African-Americans to African-Americans. And the reason for that, if you look at the data, the most trusted messengers in our communities are black nurses and black doctors. And that's just from a history of what we've dealt with for so many years. But I think the other point is access is major. You've already pointed out earlier for everyone is extremely difficult, but for some populations is even more difficult and some are less willing to go jump through the hoops necessary to make that happen. Particularly when there's a hesitancy component already present Speaker 1: 03:59 Vaccine, Superstation such as the one at the Del Mar fairgrounds they've closed multiple times due to vaccine shortages. Has that been an issue you've dealt with? Speaker 2: 04:09 Well, one of the things that when we first started doing our vaccinations in the churches and the community centers, we had the same problem. And what would happen is we may line up 400 people. I could only do 200 or we'd have to back off when the numbers that we wanted to vaccinate, because our goal is a minimum of 500 per week with our, with our centers that we're doing this, we've been fortunate as time has gone on one, because we, I think because of the disparity, we know the importance of effecting this population and it's become easier in some ways for us to get vaccine one, because we're able to make a difference in that community group. And, you know, there's an equity index where you're really trying to affect those who have the least vaccinated in the population. So I think the County has certainly worked with us more. And I think also as we have more vaccines become available, it's going to even be easier for us now that we have the J and J vaccine in addition to the Madonna and the Pfizer. So the answer to your question has gotten easier, but initially it was quite difficult Speaker 1: 05:12 That those 50 and older are eligible. Do you anticipate vaccine shortages to still be an issue? Speaker 2: 05:17 I do believe there'll be a short term issue, but as our government and local agencies try to ramp up production, it will be less of an issue. But nonetheless, in the short term, people are still having difficulty getting appointments. And I think this is particularly important that we do more of these community targeted events, because I want you to remember that African-Americans who die about 25% of those are under 65. So targeting younger people in African American populations is particularly important because of multiple risk factors and all the other living conditions that increase risk the same goes for the Hispanic or Latin X community. So the answer to your earlier question, I think longterm, the vaccine, uh, numbers will continue to rise, but short term, we continue to have challenges, but because of the importance of targeting and trying to do decrease equity, I'm hoping the County will continue to work with us to get the highest risk populations vaccinated. Speaker 1: 06:16 And since we know that there will still be challenges well, the black nurses association strategy change now that more people are, Speaker 2: 06:24 The strategy will be the same. You go into communities, you find those folks that can go out to our community health workers. You know, we have a campaign with multicultural and other groups, Susan Afflalo and other doctors who go out and we find the high risk patients in that community. In fact, that's still will go on. The real issue will be how much vaccine we can get. We will have to wait and see I'm hopeful because we are looking at again, a high risk group relative to the average that we will still because of the risk involved, be able to get enough vaccinations to deal with the patients that we're trying to vaccinate that's yet to be seen. But I'm hopeful Speaker 1: 07:04 In speaking with Dr. Bob Gillespie, a sharp physician who is medical director for the San Diego black nurses association. Dr. Gillespie, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.