Theresa Freed 0:00 The State of Kansas recently announced its COVID-19 vaccine plan. When can you expect the vaccine to be available to you? On this episode, we'll discuss the basics of the plan including which groups will get the vaccine first. also learn what to expect when you get vaccinated.
Announcer 0:16 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 0:29 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. After many months of waiting, the COVID-19 vaccine will soon find its way to Kansas. Although we can't expect the virus to vanish as soon as the vaccine arrives in the state, it's the hope many people have been searching for. Here to talk more about what vaccine distribution will look like here in Johnson County is Nancy Tausz with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. Thanks for being here.
Nancy Tausz 0:57 You're welcome. Thanks for having me.
Theresa Freed 0:59 Well, first off, just tell us a little bit about your role with the health department.
Nancy Tausz 1:04 My role, I am the Health Services Division Director and one of my programs in the division is the immunization program as well as the Preparedness Program. So we're working very closely together.
Theresa Freed 1:14 All right. Well, we are certainly anxious to hear more about what's happening here in the county. But first here is governor Laura Kelly. This is from a news conference last week when she announced the vaccine distribution plan.
Governor Laura Kelly 1:24 Before I get into the specifics, I want to stress that we are still in the very early stages of vaccine production and deployment. And as happened early on in the pandemic, I anticipate information and guidelines will be amended and evolve rapidly. Since the start of the pandemic, I vowed that I would be straightforward and honest with the people of Kansas and that my administration would follow the guidelines of our scientists and public health experts. I understand the significance of what a widespread vaccination program will do for our health, our economy and our schools and I remain committed to transparency throughout the process. Now in terms of the COVID-19 vaccine, here is what we know right now. COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna could be authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration as soon as December 10 and December 14 respectively. Third company AstraZeneca also has a vaccine in clinical trials but no date for an emergency use. Also authorization has been set. Kansas is estimated to receive 24,000 doses in our first shipment of the vaccine which will come from Pfizer. This shipment could arrive in our state as soon as mid December. While we are estimating the first shipment from a donor will arrive shortly thereafter. And with shipments from both continuing to arrive on a weekly basis. In all we're preparing for approximately 150,000 doses by the end of the month. my administration's vaccine distribution framework is in line with CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. Importantly, the vaccine will be made available based on principles of maximizing benefit, minimizing harm and striving for equity, justice and fairness. The distribution order will begin with high risk healthcare workers and nursing facility residents. Those would be phase one groups, phase two. And I must also say that there will be others who will be added to the phase one group as we're putting together this plan. Phase two will be those non high risk who are 65 years of age or older. Phase Three is the non high risk under 65 years of age, we've created a timeline for vaccine distribution. Obviously adherence to our timeline will be dependent on received the materials from the companies will work to ensure that as many phase one groups as possible are vaccinated by the end of the month. Phase two and three will be administered the vaccine on a rolling basis between the winter and late spring. At the state level, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is working with health care providers across the state to be ready to vaccinate Kansans when we receive the vaccine, more than 200 providers are in the process of signing up to distribute vaccines or have already signed up. This number is growing quickly and we expect it to continue to do so. These providers must meet certain licensing requirements agree to the conditions set forth for administering the vaccine by the CDC and must be able to provide certain key minimum data requirements. Vaccines will be delivered to pre positioned locations equipped for ultra cold storage throughout Kansas. The Ultra cold storage temperatures are required to store only the Pfizer vaccine. We'll be setting up other storage possibilities for Madonna. due to security reasons, we will not disclose the locations of these facilities. From these locations vaccines will be distributed broadly to provide vaccine coverage to healthcare workers initially, we have laid our framework to prioritize vaccine delivery to those on the frontlines of our pandemic response are those disproportionately affected by the virus. With this schedule, we intend to protect the greatest number of Kansans foster economic recovery and get our kids back into our school buildings as quickly and safely as possible. The vaccines themselves will be free. However, vaccination providers are allowed to charge an administrative fee for giving the shot but no one will be turned away if they cannot afford the administrative fee. I understand some Kansans may have hesitations about getting vaccinated. To date the vaccines in trial have been tested on 10s of 1000s of people and have passed safe safety requirements in both phase one and phase two trials. As an additional layer of checks and balances and external advisory board made up of medical and research professionals using additional public health data will review final COVID-19 vaccine data. Lastly, I would like to remind everyone listening that we did not begin manufacturing Coronavirus vaccines at the outset of this pandemic. America's best medical and research professionals had been working for years on coronaviruses for things like SARS, which is also Coronavirus. If you remember at the beginning of this this was called a novel Coronavirus, because it was different than SARS. But it's in the same family. The lessons learned through the developments with SARS are being applied today, which probably what allowed these companies to move at warp speed to develop these vaccines. Before I take questions, I want to reiterate that this news of an upcoming vaccine does not mean we should take our foot off the gas. We must continue to encourage widespread testing, or face coverings and employ other mitigation strategies. listen to advice from our public health experts on the local state and national levels.
Theresa Freed 7:32 So we know additional clarification has since been added with more phases. But generally we know the vaccine is on the way. So Nancy, can you talk a little bit about some of the work that's happening right now here in Johnson County to get ready for the distribution?
Nancy Tausz 7:46 Sure, sure. We've been planning with other departments in the county for a few months now. Just what support would we need to be able to administer the vaccine having to, where would we be administering the vaccine and of course, when the vaccine would come. So that again, and we're working with the state of Kansas, obviously, and we've been having a meeting, there's the vaccine planning committee that meets weekly with that there's also an ethics committee, those are the main the main planning things as well, as you know, our own department is working, you know, talking amongst ourselves. And again, we have to remember too, that we've been doing mass vaccination for quite a long time. So we're really excited to be able to start administrating distributing this vaccine.
Theresa Freed 8:35 And you mentioned there's an ethics workgroup. Can you talk a little bit about what what that involves? And what's that?
Nancy Tausz 8:40 Well that is a state committee again, and they have various people from throughout the state that are looking at, again, vaccine distribution, how can it be distributed fairly? How can we distribute the vaccine fairly? And I am not on that committee, but that is going simultaneously along with just the basic vaccine planning committee.
Theresa Freed 9:03 I'm sure that's a really important part of this process, because there's going to be a limited amount of vaccine available initially. And then as time goes on, we'll get more and more and we'll be able to get vaccinated. There has been some interest from providers who want to be able to offer the vaccine. Can you talk a little bit about not necessarily who the the providers are here in Johnson County, but what the interest level is, and then also how do they get registered to provide it
Nancy Tausz 9:30 Right that this is a program that again, that the state was in charge of, and different hospitals, different private providers, pharmacies could enroll in this program. And so that way, the vaccine would be sent directly to those providers. That's different than the way the H1N1 vaccine was, you know, 10 years ago, where the health department was the main person main facility. That was being the vaccine was being distributed to so this way, hopefully it will be there will be much more access after the vaccine becomes readily available.
Theresa Freed 10:08 And I'm sure there are some unique circumstances to with this vaccine that we've got at least several different distributors or providers of the vaccine. Manufacturers, I guess you might say, and then they all have different conditions at which the the vaccine needs to be handled. So can you talk a little bit about that,
Nancy Tausz 10:26 Right, the first vaccine, as everyone's probably read a Pfizer vaccine, it needs to be kept ultra cold, and it's about minus 80 degrees minus 85 degrees. And that so that needs to be kept in an ultra cold freezer. And it's there's very specific ways of handling and again, storage of the vaccine. So that probably will be much more limited, because they're not all facilities, especially private providers offices don't have that capability to keep that store that vaccine. The second vaccine, the Moderna vaccine is more I'm going to say normal that people that store vaccine, now, it's stored in the same way. So that will be a little easier to store as well as to transport to different facilities to do that. And then again, as as the other vaccines are released, approved to release, that I think most of them then are more normal storage capabilities for people to have that so it is going to be a little tricky at first. And as each vaccine is released, the specifics will be sent along with those vaccines other than what we've seen already, which of which is limited, and the specifics and the amount of the vaccine.
Theresa Freed 11:42 So when you say a normal storage situation, I've been to the health department, I've seen where the the flu vaccines are in a small refrigerator, you can get to it very easily. So is that the kind of thing we're talking about?
Nancy Tausz 11:53 Yeah, either a normal freezer, or a temperature or normal refrigerator, where again, most of most vaccines that we have now are just stored in the refrigerator. And we monitor those, of course twice a day. But but some are like varicella vaccines in the freezer, but those are kept in normal freezer temps that you would just think normally as well as normal refrigerator temps. So again, much much easier to store and transport.
Theresa Freed 12:20 So access is very important. The question, of course, is will the Health Department have this vaccine?
Nancy Tausz 12:27 We hope so. We hope so. There's the first shipments again, are going to be limited. And we still really still don't know how how many doses will be distributed. Because you're looking at the entire state of Kansas, you're not just looking at Johnson County. So they'll look at population, but it's still we get the vaccine, we will not know again, I hope I was hoping that we would get some of the ultracold initially since we do have that capability here now. But but I do not know. And we cannot order vaccine right away that will be determined by by the feds and then sent down to the state. So we'll just have to wait and see.
Theresa Freed 13:08 And though one good piece we heard about the vaccine is that it will be free. Some providers may be able to do an administrative charge within their offices. But for the most part, no one will be turned away so that everyone can get this vaccine, everybody can get it at no cost. Yes.
And why is that so important that this vaccine be available to everyone?
Nancy Tausz 13:28 Well, again, we have a pandemic, we want to reach as many people as we can, of course, there's specific phases, like you said, but again, it we want to get it into as many arms as possible as quickly as we can. And again, it will be in phases, it will depend on how much vaccine is released as as time goes on. So we'll just have to see.
Theresa Freed 13:51 This vaccine has obviously been developed very quickly, in response to the pandemic. So there are people who are very skeptical about whether it's safe. Can you talk a little bit about the safety measures that are in place?
Nancy Tausz 14:04 Right, right. First of all, this is really a we're very vaccine advocates, this is just phenomenal how this vaccine has been developed, it's gone through normal phases, as any vaccine would, obviously much faster, but the vaccine is safe. And again, it's gone through the normal phases. So people should not be concerned about the safety of the vaccine.
Theresa Freed 14:30 And one thing I know people are very interested in in sharing at the outset is that this will be similar to the flu vaccine and that you may have mild symptoms. So people wonder, Is this a Is this the actual virus that's being injected to me into my arm?
Nancy Tausz 14:47 No, they're not injecting a live vaccine and into anyone. And there might be again, we don't know, specific specifics about each vaccine other than you could get a sore arm you could get a fever, you could get aches, you know Feel maybe feel crummy, but everyone is different. And everybody, you know, responds differently to vaccine. So I, you know, you need to expect those things or maybe not, you know, maybe you won't have a thing, but but yeah, so it's Yeah. So just just just be aware of that. And again, as each vaccine comes out, there will be more specifics, specifically to that vaccine.
Theresa Freed 15:22 Sounds good. And we know that the Coronavirus vaccines have been in development for many, many years. So not just just this year. So can you talk about that too?
Nancy Tausz 15:32 Yeah. So you had SARS. You have the the Middle Eastern virus? Yes. So it's not just that yesterday, they decided to develop the SARS vaccine. No, they have been in development for years.
Theresa Freed 15:44 So we're just talking about a new strain of that virus?
Nancy Tausz 15:48 Yes, yeah. specific to this? Yes. Again, it's gone through this vaccine has progressed through the phases just like a normal any other vaccine has since gone through the safety, you know, safety measures, the tabs with different, you know, populations. Again, the first vaccines that have that will be approved, hopefully by EPA are more for adults. And so the children's vaccine will probably come later,
Theresa Freed 16:15 We talked about different manufacturers for the vaccine, when someone goes to their doctor's office, for example, will they ask for specific version of that? Or will they get whatever is available?
Nancy Tausz 16:30 Probably they'll get whatever's there. Now, I know with the long term care facilities have a separate program, and they're working with pharmacies that the personnel will actually go into the long term care facilities and administer the vaccine. They need to pick which vaccine that they're going to use the first two, and again, with with these vaccines that come out to they need to have the each of the require two doses, and they need to be the same vaccine. But I think eventually, maybe you will be able to pick the vaccine that you want to get at your providers office, but not initially. And I think it's going to be whatever is distributed as in, you know, whatever amount they have, and they'll distribute that.
Theresa Freed 17:13 So you mentioned two doses. That is different from the regular flu vaccine, I think with the exception of a young child, right? Can you talk about what's the spacing on on when you need to get those?
Nancy Tausz 17:25 So, the Pfizer vaccine, there's a there's a 21-day spacing between and the Moderna vaccine, there's 28 days between them.
Theresa Freed 17:33 So what does that mean, in terms of coverage? Does that mean after that first vaccine, you are not covered until you have that second one? Or you have some protection? or What does it mean?
Nancy Tausz 17:42 Again, just like another vaccine with that has multiple doses, you won't get the full protection until you've had the second dose. But again, again, we don't know. I would think you know, you're talking 90 95% effectiveness with both these two first vaccines. So compare it maybe to a hepatitis A vaccine or hepatitis B vaccine, or you might get like 70%, after after the first dose. But again, more specifics. I think will come out of there. But you do, it's very important that you do get that second dose.
Theresa Freed 18:15 And are we anticipating that this will be a yearly occurrence like the flu vaccine, or will this be once and you're done?
Nancy Tausz 18:24 I don't think that's known yet. I've seen both I yeah, I've seen both that. Oh, no, you're they don't know how long the effectiveness is. So I think we'll just have to see on that, too.
Theresa Freed 18:34 Okay. And another thing you mentioned children wouldn't be getting this vaccine in they were not part of the testing trials as well.
Nancy Tausz 18:45 They're undergoing one of the vaccines is not out yet that he is going through testing trials, but these are not No, no.
Theresa Freed 18:52 So they are included, I think in one of the final phases, is that right? Okay. So how soon before children might get vaccinated?
Nancy Tausz 19:00 It depends on which vaccine with the trials, whatever one of the other vaccines that are that are in this process, gets gets approved after they've done enough testing before they do that. So it might not be till late spring summer. But again, I would hesitate to say a specific month because I don't know.
Theresa Freed 19:18 And I'm sure you know, that's a concern for parents as they're pondering, you know, what next school year is going to look like. So hopefully, by the time the school is back in session, things will look very, very different. We'll be back to a somewhat normal school, right? Yes.
Nancy Tausz 19:32 Yes.
Theresa Freed 19:34 Well, how will people know when it's their turn to be vaccinated? Will they get a call, letting them know they're in the right phase or do they just need to pay attention to those phase rollouts?
Nancy Tausz 19:43 Well, both I think, we hope that they'll they will be there will be a system where we can put out the word I say about Okay, now we're we're working we're in this phase, we're working with this group of individuals group of people, and then just put the put the word out, send the notices out, you know, by multiple ways, so people will know. Yeah. Okay. Now you it's your turn, as you say, we're looking at this specific population. And there, it's very important that we communicate because you know, as well as with the safety, as well as which group is getting vaccinated? And you know, when it is your your turn, so to speak that to get vaccinated, because I hope there'll be a lot of interest in it. I know some people are hesitant about it, but but we hope that there'll be, you know, a lot of people that hey, yeah, I do want this vaccine. And can you talk again, the initial group that's going to receive the vaccine? Who are the right, right, we're looking at long term care facility residents, as well as the health care personnel that that work there. That's in the hospital personnel that actually care for COVID patients. And then we'll go down to probably the the EMS, the first responders in that first group. So and again, it might take a little more time, depending, again, on how many doses are distributed. Before all we've all we've done all the nursing homes now all the long term care facilities so that we go to the next phase, because it might take a little bit, hey, we got this much vaccine First, we'll do this many facilities, and then we'll have to maybe do the rest of the facility. So again, depending on the amount of vaccine doses available.
Theresa Freed 21:23 So those people who are in that first phase, they'll get that initial dose, and there won't be any kind of hesitation and getting their second dose because of the rollout. Right. They'll still get their their second dose at the right time.
Nancy Tausz 21:37 Yes, that's correct.
Theresa Freed 21:39 Yes. Okay. And some of the higher risk groups are also going to be included in those those first and second tiers of rollout. So that would include people who are over 65 and then have other conditions.
Nancy Tausz 21:56 Yes, that's that's correct. That's correct.
Theresa Freed 21:59 Okay, and then after that, it's going to go down to those who are just 65 and older, but don't have those higher risks.
Nancy Tausz 22:07 Right, right. Right. Right. And just work its way down to the general public. Yes.
Theresa Freed 22:12 So for somebody who's like a healthy middle aged woman, like myself more or less healthy, and more or less middle aged. So what might I might I expect it to get vaccinated?
Nancy Tausz 22:25 Well, that will probably be in phase three. So again, again, we're probably looking, you know, late, late spring, early summer. And again, it could completely turn around and be distributed faster than than we think, which would be great. Or there could be some, you know, hang ups with distribution. So we just, we just want to remain hopeful, and just really aware of what's you know, what's going on who's been vaccinated and who's next?
Theresa Freed 22:52 And just my last question, I know that this is going to take some time and so we all want to be patient and we want things to get back to normal but in the meantime until we are have that herd immunity achieved, we need to continue to follow the safety precaution so can you just talk about that?
Nancy Tausz 23:08 Yes, please continue to wear your mask even after you've been vaccinated. The first you know, any vaccine at least takes at least 14 days to become effective so you need to continue to protect people around you and you know, stay home if you're sick. Don't even you know even if you have some snuffles you don't know for sure what that is. Stay home if you're sick say have your kids stay home with their sick don't go to work and and social distance just you know, just Just be aware of others no matter where where you are.
Theresa Freed 23:37 All right. That's some great information. Of course, we will have much more about the vaccine and everything COVID in Johnson County if you go to jocogov.org/coronavirus. Thanks for listening.
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