As the country approaches the one-year milestone of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are finally starting to see some positive signs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID cases in the U.S. have been steadily declining since January 2021, and the amount of new documented cases have an inverse relationship with the number of vaccinations given. These statistics emphasize the importance of widespread vaccination.
During this crisis, Maxim Healthcare Staffing has helped connect healthcare professionals with areas that are in desperate need of more vaccinations.
Not Your Average Vaccine Distribution
Annually, the CDC distributes more than 80 million doses of vaccines to various healthcare systems across the country for influenza and other diseases. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique challenges stemming from the quick-spreading nature of the disease and the urgency to distribute vaccines as quickly as possible.
To help plan, facilitate, and carry out widespread testing and distribution of the vaccine, the federal government put Operation Warp Speed into place. The goal of Operation Warp Speed is to produce and deliver more than 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine beginning in early 2021. It also states that these vaccines will be given to Americans at no cost to them.
A Complex Operation
Operation Warp Speed is extremely complex and requires multiple levels of coordination, including but not limited to:
- Local organizations
- State organizations
- Federal organizations
- Tribal agencies
- Patient flow management
- Vaccination allocation and storage
- Data management
- Communication planning
- Resource monitoring
The actual vaccine distribution process can be broken down into three key components, which are:
- Partnerships with healthcare departments in all sectors
- A centralized distributor contract with backups in place if needed
- A flexible, scalable, web-based vaccine tracking system
Staffing for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Success
Maxim Healthcare Staffing is assisting with Operation Warp Speed by sourcing and staffing all types of modalities needed in the vaccination rollout process, such as:
- Registered nurses (RNs)
- Licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs)
- Medical assistants (MAs)
- Certified medical assistants (CMAs)
The logistic challenges that go into getting healthcare professionals into these positions and the vaccine rollout process are often underestimated. Barry Hellman, Area Vice President of Staffing at Maxim, is overseeing the company’s vaccine distribution efforts in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. Hellman is focused on how healthcare professionals are deployed because vaccination sites aren’t valuable to the general public if they aren’t staffed properly.
“It’s one thing to have enough nurses, but it’s another to know how to utilize staff properly and efficiently,” Hellman said. Health departments and other partner organizations rely on companies like Maxim to ensure that staffing needs are met. In addition, Hellman stresses the importance of using previous COVID testing sites as vaccination sites, since these two operations function very similarly in terms of staffing and operations.
Vaccine Clinics Require More Staff Than You’d Think
While some states have strong emergency management programs in place and simply need staff, other states do not have strong programs in place to begin with. The root of the problem comes from the daunting number of healthcare professionals needed for these programs to run smoothly.
According to the CDC, up to 58 different staff members (not including interpreters) are needed daily to work a large-scale vaccination clinic. Some of the key roles include:
– Medical screener
– Vaccine preparer
– Exit review
– Medical records
– Clinic manager
– Supply manager
– Float staff
Maxim was able to get ahead of the vaccine rollout process by anticipating when and how the vaccines will arrive, based on previous experience, and by having plans in place far in advance.
“We educated ourselves ahead of time on the anticipated vaccination efforts, so that we were prepared, rather than taking orders and reacting,” Hellman said. These efforts have allowed Maxim to seamlessly deliver large numbers of healthcare professionals to vaccination sites.
A Vaccine Nurse Shares Her Experience
Gina Manon is an RN with Maxim, working daily to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to various communities throughout northeastern Illinois. She was the first RN vaccinated at a local hospital and is one of the few bilingual nurses in the area.
Manon, who speaks Spanish as well as English, says, “There is a level of fear in patients who have a language barrier with their administering healthcare professional. Having someone there to cross that barrier helps to ease that fear for those who do not speak English fluently.” She hopes that these patients will tell their neighbors and communities about the Spanish-speaking nurses and help them feel comfortable getting the vaccine as well.
Patients have been very grateful to receive the vaccine, which is what drives her. “They see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that we are going to get through this,” says Manon.
For those who are leery about receiving the vaccine, she explains the how the vaccine component called mRNA triggers a response within the immune system to deliver the COVID-19 antibodies into a person’s body. She shares her belief that these vaccines are safe, since they have gone through many trials, and, “the companies who have made these vaccines are good companies that know what they’re doing.” The Pfizer vaccine is shown to be 95 percent effective, while the Moderna vaccine is 94 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
New Hope for a Return to Normalcy
While the initial vaccine rollout in late 2020 and early 2021 has provided Americans with hope of returning to normalcy, the pandemic is still in full force. According to the CDC, the weekly percentage of deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. reached its highest – 32.7 percent – during the week of January 9, 2021. This percentage exceeded the previous peak, which was 27.7 percent in April 2020. It’s as important today as it was a year ago to continue to be vigilant by washing your hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing.