Vital Handoffs in COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment

This is one of four reports from the December Brazda Breakfast Briefing. Click here for a feed of reports from these events

With two COVID-19 vaccines going into the arms of front-line healthcare workers and residents of nursing home and assisted living facilities, the world now faces the massive challenge of coordinating and administering vaccine doses to millions of people. Success depends on clear communication, consistent guidance and careful coordination between all parties involved.

Fortunately, leaders in the healthcare industry have years of experience handling complex vaccine rollout and information campaigns. At the Brazda Breakfast briefing on December 15, an event sponsored by APCO and hosted by our partner, The Alliance for Health Policy, leaders from AeroSafe Global, Walgreens, Cooper University Hospital and the Association of Immunization Managers discussed measures industry stakeholders have taken for safe COVID-19 vaccine deployment.

AeroSafe Global’s CEO Jay McHarg explained that being upfront about the logistical challenges at each step of the distribution process is crucial for building public confidence in the vaccination effort and ensuring that local healthcare administrators understand their individual needs. AeroSafe Global has designed specialized packaging solutions that enable healthcare providers from major hospital systems to local clinics and pharmacies to maintain vaccine doses at the ultra-cold temperatures the vaccinations require without any specialized training on the part of doctors and healthcare workers.

By working with the leading vaccine manufacturers and pharmacies to design custom storage and distribution packages, AeroSafe Global filled the gap between getting vaccine doses off the manufacturing floor and to medical providers like Cooper University Hospital, Walgreens and CVS who have begun to vaccinate staff and patients, eventually ending up with millions of Americans receiving a vaccine. For Walgreen’s head of U.S. Government Relations Ed Kaleta, ultra-cold storage solutions were integral for his company’s national vaccine distribution efforts. For its part in the vaccination chain, Walgreens is constantly communicating with the federal government, vaccine producers and healthcare facilities across the United States so that each stakeholder fully understands the timing and process for administering vaccines.

In addition to national strategies, vaccine distribution also requires communicating solutions at the local level. As Claire Hannan, the Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Managers discussed, vaccine dosage needs vary widely between major cities and rural communities. As a warning and an important message, she emphasized that COVID-19 vaccine distribution should not overlook rural communities that are often the last to benefit from medical breakthroughs and the worst-off when distributing resources.

One critical step in guaranteeing that local vaccination efforts go smoothly is for medical providers like Cooper University Hospital, where Dr. Snehal Gandhi serves as Medical Director, to think through how they will vaccinate their staff and manage any complications from side effects or other adverse complications that could hinder the vaccine rollout. Dr. Gandhi explained that his hospital leadership carefully developed a schedule for rotating through staff to vaccinate his teams in groups that could always be available to treat patients and potentially take time off if staff experienced adverse effects from the vaccine.

Above all, Dr. Gandhi and the other industry leaders emphasized that they are confident in the vaccine rollout and they are fully prepared for complications. Projecting confidence and trust from the top-down is critical for convincing the public to believe in the need, safety and effectiveness of vaccines and trust they will receive them as soon as possible.

You can watch a full recording of the briefing and discussion here.