What to Know About Preparing for the Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccine

Jim Fitzgibbon

Hope is on the horizon as healthcare providers began their distribution of the new COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021. Getting frontline healthcare workers inoculated became a critical component of our New Year’s strategies, and Becker’s Hospital Review reports, “Many hospitals and health systems have implemented plans to streamline the vaccine distribution.” This article will review how some healthcare organizations have begun organizing their efforts around the COVID vaccines and what you should know about preparing for your allotment.

How Hospitals are Preparing for COVID Vaccine Distribution

According to Becker’s, healthcare organizations are working with their state health departments to begin distribution of the new vaccines as soon as they become available. For example:

  • UCHealth, in Aurora, Colorado, operates or is affiliated with facilities in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The organization is planning on distributing a limited supply of vaccines to direct care workers in COVID-units first and providers in their emergency departments. As more supplies come in, the second wave of healthcare providers in outpatient clinics and other areas will be vaccinated. The health system says they are basing their distribution on “healthcare workers’ proximity to patients with COVID-19, not on their employment status or job title.”
  • Ohio Health, a non-profit network of 12 hospitals, more than 200 ambulatory sites, home health, DME, and more, serve patients in 47 Ohio Counties, has been planning for the vaccine for months. They cite their priorities for vaccine delivery as following the outline set by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Like, UCHealth, they plan to vaccinate frontline workers first, including those involved in food delivery and environmental services.
  • Spectrum Health, Ohio Health’s northern neighbor, is an integrated healthcare provider with 15-hospitals serving the state of Michigan. Becker’s reports their vaccine distribution plan will begin with inoculation of frontline workers, including ER, ICU, and the dedicated COVID unit workers, along with support staff.
  • Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an eight-hospital regional system with more than 200 primary and specialty care practices. The organization plans to distribute the vaccine first, to the ER, ICU, and inpatient units directly caring for COVID patients, just like the other health systems. The secondary vaccination wave will cover the rest of the inpatient units in the hospitals. Operations follow in a third wave, including ancillary care providers.

What can other healthcare providers learn from these rollouts? First, these systems have a methodical plan in place for distribution, even as they wait for federal and state governments to provide them with enough vaccine to complete their plan. Second, communication of their distribution plan is a critical part of their rollout. The American Medical Association (AMA) says that doctors and other clinical providers should prepare themselves now for the rollout and distribution process. They state, “In an era of uncertainty…people will look to their own healthcare providers.” Having a prioritization in place is job one. The AMA also says that organizations can verify whether they have enough cold-storage capacity for the vaccine while determining a socially distanced workflow for patients coming in to receive the vaccine.

MedSource Consultants works with healthcare providers to help them stay prepared for staffing now and in the future. Contact our team to find out how we can help.