9: Booster Shot Logistics

Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President for Pandemic Response and Recovery, discusses the logistics of standing up COVID-19 vaccination sites to provide booster shots; ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marcus Plescia ponders demand for third...

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Jim Blumenstock, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President for Pandemic Response and Recovery, discusses the logistics of standing up COVID-19 vaccination sites to provide booster shots; ASTHO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marcus Plescia ponders demand for third doses; and CDC Epidemiologist Sascha Ellington has a reminder for COVID-19 vaccinators.

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Friday, August 20th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson with today's news from the association of State and Territorial Health Officials, states and territories have started working on plans to give booster shots. Do people vaccinated with the Pfizer and modern of vaccines? The program announced this week starts September 20th. ASTO chief medical officer, Dr. Marcus Plescia says public interest in a third dose is tough to predict.



The big thing different is we just don't know what the demand will be. I mean, there were a lot of people who were very eager to get their primary series of vaccine when we first rolled it out. And now you've got a situation where people do have quite a bit of protection and there, there are different levels there at different time periods and, and how long it's been since they had the vaccine. So, I think we're hoping that that may mean that the whole rollout is a little more manageable and we won't have this big influx of a huge supply that will make it a little bit more challenging.



For the second time in a year, Public Health teams are gearing up to handle millions of Americans who might want to get a COVID vaccine, but will the process of this fall be more or less work? Jim Blumenstock is ASTO S Senior Vice President for Pandemic Response and Recovery. We asked him about that in today's morning conversation. This time last year, states and territories were working hard to build systems, to administer millions of vaccine doses. What will it be like for them this time around?



It provides a little bit more complexity, but I think it's important to realize that, you know, with being up and running since mid-December, I mean, we have an infrastructure that certainly has been a battle-tested and really have served the public well. So, it's, it's now sort of at a steady-state, it's effective, it's efficient, but it's also flexible and scalable. So, as we bring on board, these new vaccination efforts, and this was no surprise, I mean, we have been doing contingency planning for the last several months in anticipation that possibly vaccines would become eligible for younger children or individuals, or the fact that boosters may be a reality at one point in time.


So there has been obviously, you know, levels of planning consideration, and now it's sort of the devil's in the details and that's sort of the phase we are now in to figure out how best to scale up, to provide the vaccine to everyone and, and as effective, safe, and efficient and equitable fashion as possible. And that includes, you know, record-keeping, so everyone could actually get documentation of their, of their third or their additional dose ensure that the providers that have been providing vaccine all along have additional supplies and, and understand sort of how best to counsel individuals when they may present and have some questions as to whether or not they're eligible or not eligible.


So, all those details, literally, as you and I are speaking today, the nation's public health system are working on those details right now.



We're still waiting for the safety reviews to be completed. Does that process make everything else more complicated?



No.  Quite the contrary it's, it's a critical step from both the FDA and the CDC advisory committee on immunization practices. You know, the administration announced the plan with the evidence suggesting that it's important and necessary, and now rely on those two federal agencies and their independent advisory bodies to look at additional science and data and present number one, there they're green light. And hopefully, we will get to that point and also, sort of the terms and conditions of how best to, to apply these, these vaccines to individuals who need it the most.


So, and this is a critically important phase. It doesn't add complexity it adds confidence and clarity as to the safety and efficacy of this critical medical countermeasures, such as a vaccine. So, we're just now standing by following their deliberations that will take place over the next couple of weeks. And hopefully, this will all come together when we're able to throw the switch later next month.




How can ASTO help states and territories as they gear up for these of Booster Shots?



Well, what we have done since day one, which was, it seems so long ago, and we do for any other public health emergency issue, ASTHO’s strength is basically to support it’s members to state and territorial health officials in three ways. Number one, we provide great support to our members who are leaders and so that they really could function and, you know, and thrive and succeed in their mission of protecting the public that they serve. So, it's, it's sort of leadership development and support that's number one, number two is technical assistance to them and their staffs and their programs recognize that that they need to continue to build capacity and enhance capabilities.


As we continue to fight COVID or any other public health threat or crisis that's on the horizon. And the last point is advocacy. You know, we will continue to advocate for sound federal and national policy and to do our very best to ensure that states and territories are provided with sufficient and sustainable resources from our federal policy makers, so that they can get the job done.



Vaccine uptake among pregnant women has been low, but new guidance from the CDC aims to calm the fears of would-be moms. CDC epidemiologist, Sascha Ellington says the risk of a miscarriage is about the same whether the mother has had the COVID-19 vaccine. Ellington also had this reminder for those professionals, giving the shots.



It's important that all vaccinators and vaccination sites know that there is no requirement that a healthcare provider provides permission to vaccinate pregnant women. Pregnant women may wish to consult with their healthcare provider, but it's not required.



And finally, this morning, public health leaders can explore the health value of school collaborations in an on-demand microlearning available online. The School Health 1 0 1 program is two parts, the course, and a survey. Don't miss this chance to brush up on your School. Health knowledge, find a link to the microlearning as well as links to other vaccine-related resources in the show notes. Also, remember to follow us on apple podcasts and Spotify, or listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

And if you have a minute, please take time to share our show with a colleague. Join us Monday for more ASHTO news and information, including a conversation about support for states and territories working to keep schools healthy. I'm Robert Johnson, you're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition

James Blumenstock

Former Chief Program Officer, Public Health Practice, ASTHO

Sascha Ellington PhD MSPH CPH

Epidemiologist, CDC

Marcus Plescia MD MPH

Chief Medical Officer, ASTHO