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What's going on with the slow roll out of COVID vaccines..... an answer from a "wise woman"....

Dear Friends:

In my life, I have been blessed to have had several "wise women" who have always kindly shared their wisdom with me.  They have actually been a major influence on me personally and professionally and I continue to learn from them.  
One of the wise women in my circle is Glennah Trochet, the former Health Officer for Sacramento County.  I have known Glennah for many years and always enjoyed our collegial relationship.  She is a true public health hero.
After reading an article in this morning's Sacramento Bee titled "Here's why Sacramento's COVID vaccine rollout has been so slow." and invoking Habit 5:  Seek first to understand.... of Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People".... I asked her "what's up, Glennah?"
Here is her quite insightful and well focused response below.  It is well beyond an admonition to "Be nice to people" (usually good advice) as it is a systems explanation which is ideal for someone like me (INTJ) who "likes the facts".  And that's how she started.
Feel free to share it with/without attribution, I have asked her permission to do so and she said, "Yes".
Dr. Troidl/John
From Glennah Trochet, MD:
Hi John,
These are the facts: In California virtually every Public Health department is understaffed.  Despite this, public health staff  are working day and night on this pandemic. They still have other obligations, so most are working two full-time jobs.They have been trying to implement non-pharmaceutical interventions such as public health mandates to close down,  isolation and quarantine. Many spend their days doing  case investigations and contact tracing while the public flouts public health mandates to close down, wear masks and stay home. Their so-called partners in law enforcement refuse to support them; so those who don't follow the rules do so without consequences. We were also told to plan to vaccinate the public and counted on our partners in medicine to do most of the vaccinating.
So here we are: we have a surge in cases, and our medical partners are busy trying to stop people from dying. The same people who are doing case investigations and contact tracing must now also vaccinate the population. We don't know when we will get vaccines, how much we will have at any time, but we must not waste a single dose. The vaccines that are currently available require very special handling. Despite all this, we have managed to vaccinate half a million people in California in the three weeks that we have had some vaccine available. That is an amazing feat given everything that has been going on for the past 10 months.
Instead of complaining that the vaccine rollout is too slow, people  should be congratulating Public Health workers for continuing to work despite the lack of support from all sides. If folks have to wait two to 4 weeks for their turn to be vaccinated, that is not a failure. We need to reshape our expectations. If we didn't have a surge in cases right now, vaccinations would be faster, if the vaccine doses were available in large quantities, which they are not. That's my explanation of what is going on.



Greg Rowe

This is excellent information and a needed perspective.

Left unsaid is the total lack of national leadership on every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. It is a sad comparison to what happened on Dec 7 and 8, 1941. On the 7th, of course, was the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the 8th, President Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.

In contrast to the current situation is what FDR did NOT do next on Dec 8. He did not then say that the governors of each of the 48 states was then responsible for manufacturing and deploying their own warplanes, ships, tanks, guns and ammunition. Instead, the federal government launched a well-coordinated and comprehensive effort to win the war. The lack of such an effort now is an affront to County health departments, and moreover, the American people.

Karen L. Baker

Thank you for this posting. It helps to hear from a public health expert to cut through the "noise."


Robin Wiener

Like most of CA (but not every state), the Sac area has only given a small number of vaccinations relative to the number of doses it has received and that are sitting in storage in the Sac area. And as manufacturing ratchets up, there will be a lot more doses. It seems that the problem is not lack of doses.

The problem appears to be mostly a lack of personnel to do the injections because of the current drain on our health systems and, especially, on our doctors and nurses. Yes, poor planning by the federal government but blaming doesn’t solve this problem — which is not going away soon, so let’s address it. Giving injections is not very complicated or difficult to learn. Why can’t nursing students, medical students, medical assistants, and even radiology techs be trained and assigned to give vaccinations? And if that’s not enough, why can’t the Public Health Dept train people who have some health background, or science background or are good learners? Yes, a doctor will need to be available on site in case of an allergic reaction, but we will be in big trouble if we wait until there are enough available doctors and nurses to give injections.

If we do nothing we will have vaccine still sitting in freezers past its expiration date. And it will be another year before we hit herd immunity. How many more people will die in that time?

It’s not enough to listen to explanations for why vaccines are sitting unused in freezers. We need to do something about it.

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