55: Pediatric COVID Vaccine Sites

James Blumenstock, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President for Pandemic Response and Recovery, shares how states and territories are preparing for the possibility of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine; Kathy Dolan, Director of Environmental Health at ASTHO, tells...


James Blumenstock, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President for Pandemic Response and Recovery, shares how states and territories are preparing for the possibility of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine; Kathy Dolan, Director of Environmental Health at ASTHO, tells us how ASTHO members can tackle climate change in their jurisdictions; and we feature three ASTHO job openings.

FDA webpage: Comirnaty and Pfizer – BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Center for Homeland Defense and Security webpage: The Next Season of Pandemic Response – What Leaders Need to Know this Fall and Winter

JPHMP Article: Approaching Climate Change – The Role of State and Territorial Health Agencies

ASTHO webpage: Job Opportunities in Public Health and at ASTHO

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, October 27th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

It's another big week for COVID-19 vaccines as the FDA considers Pfizer's formula for younger children. The opportunity to protect kids from the virus has ASTHO members planning where to give the shots.

Jim Blumenstock is ASTHO's senior vice president for pandemic response and recovery. He's talking about this and other COVID vaccine topics in today's morning conversation.

The COVID vaccine flowchart is getting a little complicated, with lots of specific guidance depending on the formula. Is that making it tougher for states and territories when it comes to administering the vaccine programs?

JIM BLUMENSTOCK:

Well, granted, it is somewhat detailed, but that really is not a new phenomenon when you think about it.

You know, public health officials and healthcare providers are accustomed to this. I mean, for example, seasonal flu, they have just as many—if not—more details or combinations of the vaccine than we have right now for COVID. When you look at the vaccine type, it's brands or multiple brands, how it's packaged or its presentation, and the appropriate age indications.

So again, it's an environment or circumstances that's not unusual, they're accustomed to it; but obviously there's a learning curve to sort of get familiar with the new products and all of its provisions, and put systems in place to safely manage the administration of the vaccine.

JOHNSON:

There've been some success stories associated with vaccine mandates, but there are some groups who are protesting now. What's the best way to manage these disagreements?

BLUMENSTOCK:

You know, that's certainly—the way it's playing out is very disturbing. And it's unfortunate because public health all along takes very, very seriously their obligation to balance decisions and actions for the greater public good with those of individual rights and civil liberties, and this is a classic example.

And, you know, the actions with mandates, by most everyone's criteria, was that of a last resort situation because the circumstances warranted it. We just were not making progress using, you know, traditional and usually proven voluntary encouragement and education programs or practices and procedures.

JOHNSON:

By the end of next week, we might have a vaccine for kids under the age of 12. What are ASTHO members doing right now to get ready for that possibility, and what obstacles might they be on the lookout for?

BLUMENSTOCK:

So, for the last several weeks, at least the public health community has mobilized and they've done a number of things.

You know, first they realized that we need additional more appropriate sites to administer the vaccine, so identifying those sites that are most appropriate and convenient to the kids and the parents that we want to administer the vaccine to. So, you know, looking at such sites like the medical, you know, pediatric and family practice providers throughout the communities—there are 30,000 of those that are presently being equipped to be vaccination sites.

We know that approximately 75% of the sites that already participate in the Vaccine for Children programs are now equipped to provide COVID vaccine, so that's outstanding.

We're looking at children's hospitals. Tens of thousands of pharmacies across the country have been providing a lot of adult and adolescent vaccine, and we would expect that they would also provide a smaller supply to that of children.

We're working with our colleagues in the education sector to determine whether and how best to plan and conduct school-based clinics. I mean, I remember back in the day where, you know, I got my polio vaccines in the school environment. I mean, that's an historic reference and there are many, many more, but school environments are certainly appropriate, too.

And, of course, the use of community health centers and rural clinics.

JOHNSON:

Finally, you're moderating a panel today for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security. The topic is what to expect from the fall and winter seasons of the pandemic. Can you answer that question for us now here on the newscast?

BLUMENSTOCK:

Oh, Robert, I'll give you the trailer, but not the spoiler on that one.

We really do enjoy our strong partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School and the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, and we're partnering with several other national associations and we'll be joined by, we expect to be over 1,200 public health, public safety, and other types of government experts and key people across local, state, and territorial agencies; really to explore what it will be like for the next couple of months managing COVID at the same time as we have seasonal flu and other threats that continued to hit us—whether it be severe storms or other threats—and really sort of talk about what what's the immediate strategy and policy implications moving forward, and also how this will sort of position us and transition into 2022.

JOHNSON:

The session moderated by Blumenstock and hosted by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security starts at 2:00 PM. Eastern time today. Panelists include Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Washington, D.C. Department of Health, and Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Registration is free—sign up using the link in the show notes.

 

An atmospheric river brought flooding rain and high winds to California this week. The rain was welcomed, but not the way it was delivered, the effect compared to aiming a firehose at areas suffering severe drought conditions. Of course, climate change not only causes severely bad weather, it also brings serious public health impacts.

Kathy Dolan is director of environmental health at ASTHO.

KATHY DOLAN:

The top three things that public health officials could do to address climate change are to raise public awareness, promote environmental stewardship, and integrate climate across programs and policies.

Health officials are uniquely positioned to inform their communities, policymakers, and other government entities, and they can advance policies that maintain, and support, and protect a healthy environment in which to live, work, and play.

And lastly, health agencies can integrate climate readiness into and across public health programs—including infectious disease, chronic disease, food, and water safety—and they can also coordinate with our partners from other sectors like transportation, housing, energy, and commerce.

JOHNSON:

Dolan helped write an article on this topic for the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

Read it using the link in the show notes.

 

Finally this morning, ASTHO has several job openings for people interested in supporting its member states and territories.

The organization needs a director of cross-sector leadership and facilitation, a senior analyst of contracts, and a senior analyst working on public health data modernization.

 

Visit the show notes for links to ASTHO'S jobs page and the pandemic forecast event.

 

Also, remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

And, if you have a minute, please take time to leave us a rating and a review.

 

Join us tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.