As states work to roll out COVID vaccines to first-phase recipients, Washington state has been ahead of the nation in distribution with early mass vaccination sites and partnerships with companies such as Starbucks. Paul Minardi, MD, president and executive medical director of Washington Permanente Medical Group, discussed key factors in how Kaiser Permanente Washington has distributed the vaccine on the American Medical Association’s COVID-19 Update episode released Monday.
“Patients, people, members, the population at large, [they’re] so excited to be vaccinated,” Dr. Minardi said. “It’s an incredible experience to see people coming in so excited to be vaccinated and so delighted by the process.”
Dr. Minardi said robust planning, which included simulation of the vaccine distribution process weeks before doses became available, helped Kaiser Permanente Washington achieve “door-to-needle” times of 5 to 10 minutes for people receiving the vaccine during the first phase of distribution, which includes health care workers and those 75 and older.
Dr. Minardi noted that COVID vaccines are currently a precious commodity, and said he was hopeful of future supplies with news of Moderna increasing dosage in units shipped and Johnson & Johnson’s pending emergency-use authorization for its vaccine.
Kaiser Permanente launched “e-visits,” an online tool that allows those qualified for a vaccine to be screened and schedule an appointment. Dr. Minardi emphasized that the system must be simple and easy for users to navigate, and that constant communication is needed to inform people about who is qualified to receive the vaccine and when.
Working with advisory consumer groups has helped Kaiser Permanente to understand whether its process resonates with patients, Dr. Minardi said. “At the end, of the day they become the best ambassadors for others to become vaccinated.”
View the complete AMA COVID Update below.