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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 01/22/2021

Theresa Freed 00:00

The state advances the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to phase two. When can you get your shot? On this episode, hear from one of our experts about the new phase and what you can expect.

Announcer 00:11

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed 00:24

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go, I'm your host Theresa Freed, a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County government. Phase One of the state's vaccine rollout plan is wrapping up. That group includes health care workers, long term care staff and residents and those involved in pandemic response. Now we're about to begin Phase Two a substantial group that's at high risk for complications and exposure to this deadly virus. Here to talk more about that is Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola. Thanks again for being here.

Dr. Sanmi Areola 00:55

Thank you for having me Theresa.

Theresa Freed 00:58

All right. Well, first off, I think, you know, what's on everyone's mind is how and when can I get the vaccine, but first, we really want to talk about Phase Two and who's in that group. So if you could talk about that first.

Dr. Sanmi Areola 01:09

Yes, phase two is a fairly large, large group. We've got our 65 plus, or older residents, we have educators in our K through 12 schools that include other staff, custodians, drivers, and we've got operators of childcare establishments, again, including all of their staff. in there, we have first responders, emergency services, police and fire, we have also in the our food and agricultural sectors, restaurants and bars, retail grocery stores, that's a fairly large group, just looking at estimates that we have, we could be looking at up to 150,000 persons in this category. And so we would need to approach this in multiple ways. And of course, the big variable still is how many vaccines we we are getting from the state every week.

Theresa Freed 02:21

So we are using a slightly different system than the state. The state has the phases and we of course have the phases as well. And we're moving with the state. But we also have tiers within Phase Two, because that group is so large, can you talk about how those are divided?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 02:36

Yes, so the state makes the decisions as to what is in, in the phases. But we have a prerogative in, when we're executing this, to sub prioritize within within the phases. And that's what we have done. And it is, again, it's a very large group in Phase One is likely the group that are that I've talked about. In Tier One, I'm sorry, Phase Two, Tier One and Tier Two, then we get into congregate settings, like corrections, like shelters. And again, to be clear the putting different groups into phases is not why we look at factors of risk and look at factors of equity. It is primarily because it's just impossible to do everyone at once. So we do need to space that out. That's why it becomes very important for our residents to be patient. Especially, I mean, we got 6800 doses this week, if that's what we continue to get. And, and that's the only thing coming into the county, you can do the calculation yourself. So we could be doing this for the next few months. And so and candidly, that's very close to the sort of feedback that we are getting from the state is based on the allocations that are coming to the state that this may be what we are getting, and this may be what we have to redistribute across the county so that we can vaccinate people. So we've got we've got them in tiers and we will and so we are going to open up for example some of a slots for people to be vaccinated next week, and those are going to be a subset of Tier One because Tier One by itself is very is very large. Again, I appeal to our residents is patience. I think it's absolutely fantastic. Absolutely impressive. The number of our residents who are ready and willing to take the infection, it's not. It's not very, very, it's not very good that we don't have enough vaccines to give. And so for us, the primary message is an appeal to our residents to be patient. We're trying our best to give this out. As quickly as we can, we're trying our best to make sure that we are clear and explain to our residents, how we're making those decisions and who would qualify. But there's just so much you can do with 6000 doses in a week come into a county of more than 600,000 persons.

Theresa Freed 05:46

And something interesting, I thought you said the other day was just talking about how quickly we are getting vaccine into the arms of residents. So can you talk about what that process is, in terms of receiving the doses and then scheduling clinics and then reaching out to the people who have expressed interest?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 06:03

Yes, thank you. We are opening vaccine clinics, Tuesdays through Fridays, and every every week, we have given out the vaccines as quickly as we've received them. This week is actually the first week where we've had enough vaccine to open clinics Tuesdays through Fridays. Last week, we didn't have we didn't have vaccines on Monday, we just started receiving and getting word that we will receive some that Tuesday. So we received a few Tuesday from KU Med and Health Partnership. And we opened clinics the following day. So without those ones, we wouldn't have been able to open clinic on Wednesday and Thursday, because the allocation we got from the state did not come in until Thursday. And so we so we received that week a few on Tuesday, we open clinic on Wednesday and Thursday, we received the state allocation on Thursday, which allowed us to do a clinic on Friday. And again, and then this week, we've run our clinic Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, we got another shipment. Yesterday, we still have some people in Phase One that are yet to be vaccinated, we're still going to be doing those. But later today, we're going to open up the slots for vaccination next week. Again, is going to be for open up not for everyone people a subset of, of Tier One, Phase Two, Tier One. And, and then we just do that based on the number of vaccines that we get. And and we've got partners across the country lined up that are ready and ready to vaccinate people, if we get vaccine. If we get vaccines, we've got our health systems that are ready that are already communicating with their patients to say you can get your vaccine here. Again, the primary variable here is our when, when and how many vaccines that you get. But we've got, our plans may, we're a larger county than some of the smaller counties, smaller counties can have this system where this they said residents register here, we'll call you down the list as we get vaccine. We're a larger county, we've got to have a more robust system. So our plan is really use our resources. And that includes the partnership with our hospital systems which we have, we have done and already they have systems in place to vaccinate. Really broadly they have a system to scale up and to increase throughput if the vaccine is there. So so it needs to be that we are vaccinating they are vaccinating, a health partnership clinic is vaccinating that's how quickly we could make this work, if we if we have the vaccine. But our plan is, is ready to do this. Our plan is very robust. And once we vaccine, we'll be able to get it into the arms of as many residents as possible as quickly as we can.

Theresa Freed 09:22

And with that efficiency that we're we're working towards getting the vaccine into as many arms as possible as quickly as we can. Some questions are are out there about the second dose or are those being reserved for individuals who have already gotten their their first vaccine?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 09:40

We have been sent the second doses as scheduled, and that's a good thing. So when people get their first dose, they get a card and our staff verbally remind them that they need to schedule an appointment so that they can be vaccinated. So the vaccine is here, if you have taken your first dose, so check your card when we open up our appointment, book a spot, come in, get your second dose so you can have the full benefit, full immunity from the vaccination.

Theresa Freed 10:18

And just to talk a little bit more about the partners that we have lined up for Phase Two distribution, can you talk about who's going to be serving which which subgroups,

Dr. Sanmi Areola 10:29

Thank you for that. We have health systems, the larger ones, KU Med, Advent, Olathe Health Systems and St Luke's and others. And they are going to primarily focus along with us on the 65-plus category, residents that are 65 years old or older. And, and that's and that's it, that's the largest group there. Secondly, the second category, Children's Mercy Hospital is going to be focused on vaccinating educators K through 12, as well as our childcare establishments, and we have all of those worked out all of those written down and mapped out and we are in touch with them on a regular basis. And in touch also with the schools, the superintendents are aware of that we have numbers that we're working with how many they have in each of the districts. And so we are ready for that. And then similarly with the childcare establishments, because we also regulate this entity, we already have relationships with them throughout the COVID response, we have constant, we're in constant communication with them. So that's, that's great, and a survey is going on, is going out today, to those childcare establishment to better firm up, our numbers. How many people are there, or percentage of them are willing to take the virus vaccine. And so those are ongoing, that is what Children's Mercy is going to focus on. Then the our food and agriculture categories subset of that will be likely what partnership clinic focus on, and, and in, in police and fire category. Again, it's not a very large group, we have a plan in place also, to ensure that they get their vaccine and working with them, because some of the fire guys are able to vaccinate, they're able to give injections, so we're working with them, where it's a different system that is not necessarily clogging up the spots that we have. But where we make an arrangement where our staff are able to vaccinate them in a way that's more efficient outside of the spots that we have to vaccinate people. Now again, when we do that, when it happens, it's a function of when vaccine becomes available to rush.

Theresa Freed 13:16

And I know we've done two surveys so far for one for Phase One, and then one for Phase Two, can you talk a little bit about the purpose of those surveys and how that contact information might be used as we move forward to actually book appointments and what the process of booking appointments will look like?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 13:33

Yeah, thank you. I think the response to the survey that we currently have for Phase Two has been pretty good. We we do know that when we open it up, that has some issues with it with many people getting on at the same time, but those have been fixed. And it's very important for people to complete that the primary reasons for that is while it's while it's not signing up for a vaccine spot, it allows us to fight fine tune our plans to know how many people we're working with. I mean, people are willing to take the vaccine and how do we spread this out. All of those logistical details that's that's helping us how are many residents are willing to take it over 80 years old? How many over 75? All of those are things that are important for us in terms of our planning, but it's also very important for you because when we have your information, your email or your phone number, we're able to push information out to you. So if you haven't completed it yet, please do. With the healthcare workers, that was a survey that was also very helpful for the same reasons. It wasn't booking a spot to be vaccinated but it allowed us to reach out to you with information, when we have spots open to say spots are open, go, here's where you need to go to go and book a spot, I expect for the next for the few for the foreseeable future, that the spots that we have open will not be a lot just based on the number of vaccines that we get by every every day that we have clinic, we are chipping away, we are vaccinating more people and we are moving towards our goal. We may not be, we may not be sprinting. But we're clearly working towards our goal. And so very important for people to to complete that it helps our planning, it also helps you to receive information directly from us, whether by email, or by phone.

Theresa Freed 15:44

Okay, and that information will be on our website, we have a vaccine webpage. And we'll have a link to that in the show notes of this episode. You know, as you mentioned, our end goal is to get rid of this virus. And so we need to reach herd immunity. And so can you talk about what that is, and then how close we are and how we know what our progress is towards that?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 16:06

Yes, so we are now beginning to lean more towards using words like population immunity, or community immunity, but a technical word that we've used for a long time is herd immunity. Basically, what that is, is if we have a certain percentage of our population, immune, then we basically obstruct, obstruct or disrupt the chain of transmission of the virus. And so part of this virus spreads is, in fact, one person, one person is able to infect two or three persons, those three people, if they're infecting two people, ah, he just has to double. So what immunity does, when we have enough people vaccinated is that those paths are disrupted, and it doesn't allow the virus to proliferate or to spread in the community as much as they would have, which eventually leads to suppression of transmission in the community. That number for us, in the United States as a as a country, we think the closer to 90% it is, the better. And so we're still ways from there. But now that's why it's important for us, as we do all these things that we'll continue to wear a mask and physically distance and avoid large crowds. We're not there yet, but we will get it spread out because we really haven't vaccinated a significant portion of our population. If we look out, we don't we don't have the full picture yet. But I suspect that by the time we we finish all the vaccination through the federal pharmacy partnerships. By time we get the numbers through from the vaccination that our systems and hospitals have done, what health partnerships have done and ourselves thus far, that we might already be approaching 9-10 percent come back as, again, depending on whether you're using a 615 or 20, or whatever number for accounting. We might be approaching that very soon. still far from there. But huge progress better than where we were early in December.

Theresa Freed 18:36

Yeah, some some good words of hope there. It just to bring it back once again, to get the big questions on everyone's mind when and how do I get the vaccine. So bottom line is take the survey, if you're in phase two, and that's available through our website, you can get a link there. And once again, have that in our show notes. And then also pay attention to what your providers are communicating about the vaccine availability as well as that right?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 19:01

That is accurate. Yes, pay attention to the news. If we have your information or make sure you receive those things, pay attention to communication from your providers, those are the right things to do.

Theresa Freed 19:14

And be patient, right?

Dr. Sanmi Areola 19:16

That's absolutely important. We don't have a choice where the vaccines are going to be coming in, not in the amount that we need them. And, again, I will say understandably so because we've got millions of people across the country who are willing and ready to take the vaccine. And at some point, it will all catch up we'll have additional vaccines approved in the market. Until then, though, patience is a virtue.

Theresa Freed 19:46

All right. Well, thank you again so much for being with us. And thanks for listening.

Dr. Sanmi Areola 19:50

Thank you very much.

Announcer 19:51

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast visit jocogov.org/podcast. Thanks for listening.