Sonoma County vaccination event for health care workers hoped to become model for California
As Bay Area coronavirus cases continue to surge, plans are underway in the North Bay to find better solutions to get more people vaccinated in less time by designing an innovative way to expand numbers of those protected from the disease, while also supporting access equity for all segments of the population.
“At the rate we are going today, it could take as long as three years to vaccinate everyone,” said Dr. Robert Schulman, president of the 750-member Sonoma County Medical Association (SCMA). “We need to find ways to do this in six months. Our collective hope is that we will establish a format and standard procedures that can evolve into a template for our county and California as part of the statewide effort to combat this disease.”
While North Bay hospitals have started to inoculate their medical personnel in Tier1a, SCMA is collaborating with the Sonoma County Health Department headed by Dr. Sundari Mase to expand this process to those who may not have access to hospital resources, such as people working in small or solo medical, dental and allied practices.
The plan calls for developing a series of vaccination clinics throughout the greater Santa Rosa metro area, with a goal of replicating this model to include those in current and subsequent Tier groups countywide.
The first of these by-reservation-only satellite clinics opened Friday at 3313 Chanate Road. Scores of doctors, nurses, medical assistants and administrative office personnel lined up from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to receive the first of two doses of the U.S. FDA-approved Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine to help prevent them from getting the virus.
This vaccination clinic is exclusively for doctors and medical personnel only, and not for the general public. In future vaccine rollout Tiers, other population groups will be added.
"If we don't vaccinate our physicians and medical staff members first and they get sick, who will be available to take care of their patients and the rest of us?" said Peter N. Bretan, M.D, FACS, president of the California Medical Association. He came to the clinic to learn how this Sonoma County approach can become a Point Of Distribution (POD) model for other counties and medical associations to copy statewide
This site reopened Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is scheduled to do so on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. By closing time on Monday, more than 600 individuals will have received the initial vaccination, to be followed in 21 days by a second injection. A 30-day interval is advised between getting flu and COVID-19 shots.
Wendy Young, executive director of SCMA, sent a mass email to all regional medical practices asking their employees to sign up in advance and/or to volunteer to help staff the clinic.
The response was high and appointments were scheduled on an hourly basis. All available slots were filled in record time. The entire process takes from about 30 to 45 minutes for participants, including intake safety procedures, completing forms, getting the vaccination and waiting 15 minutes to make sure there are no allergic reactions.
“Our mission is to support Sonoma County in reaching all population tiers as quickly as possible,” said Young,. “We’re already signing up participants for the next clinic site within Santa Rosa we hope to open in about a week that will be bigger and have a larger staff able to handle more vaccinations. We’re obtaining additional syringes and have access to thousands of vaccine doses through the county.”
She said, “I tell people we are building the plane and flying it at the same time. Sure, some mistakes are being made and we may fall behind occasionally, but we’re making course corrections as we go in a concerted effort to create a well-oiled machine. I believe the SCMA is the first professional organization to partner with a county to vaccinate all tiers within its jurisdiction.”
While the current supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. is currently limited, plans for delivering available vaccines allocated to Sonoma County are well underway. As of January 10, 2021, 11,179 healthcare workers have been vaccinated, including staff of behavioral health hospitals, first responders and others that qualify under Phase 1a prioritization.
Of this total, 4,170 individuals have received the Moderna vaccine and 7,009 received the Pfizer vaccine. Sonoma County has received 25,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses since Dec. 18, according to Matt Brown with Sonoma County Public Affairs, including follow up shipments on a weekly basis..
Six acute care hospitals in Sonoma County – Kaiser Permanente, Memorial Hospital, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, Petaluma Valley Hospital, Healdsburg Hospital and Sonoma Valley Hospital – are receiving vaccine doses directly from the state to vaccinate their frontline healthcare workers.