Health Care Covid Vaccinations, Challenges and Who's Next

Dec 29, 2020

Thousands of Northwest health care workers have received one of the two Covid vaccines.
Credit Screenshot from Providence Health Care

Health care organizations around the Northwest are in various stages of inoculating their employees with the new Covid vaccines.

That brings different levels of complications. Those complications include finding enough vaccine to get doses for everyone and then getting them scheduled for shots.

Susan Stacey, the chief nursing officer at Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, says the health system has vaccinated about 2,000 of its workers.

“We have not seen a significant impact on staffing for the vaccine. One of the things we have been doing is asking our caregivers proactively to schedule their vaccinations at the end of a stretch, just to minimize effects," she said.

Some health systems around Washington have already scheduled second shots for those who have received the initial vaccination. Others, such as Nicole Eddins from Mason Health in Shelton, are struggling with how to do that.

“I have plenty of vaccine, plenty of vaccinators. It’s getting the phone calls coordinated and the schedule coordinated. That’s actually something I’m working on a short-term and a long-term plan," Eddins said.

Eddins says that long-term plan will address how to contact and schedule people who work outside her health system, people such as police officers and grocery store workers. They are the people who may be among the next tier of workers considered at high risk of contracting the virus.

Cassie Sauer from the Washington State Hospital Association says her members would like to plan for the next group as well.

“We do not have the phase 1-B guidance. We would really like to get it," Sauer said. "Hospital scheduling is really challenging, so the sooner we can know who’s in the 1-B category, the sooner we can start reaching out to those people and get them put on a schedule.”

And who should be in 1-B? Dr. Francis Riedo from Evergreen Health in Kirkland has some suggestions.

“Firefighters and EMTs in this state are all included in phase 1-A," Riedo said, "but it would be great to see law enforcement and teachers, grocery store workers and agricultural workers who are in these facilities that prepare and pack our food for us get some protection.”

Health care officials say scheduling those people in the 1-B, 1-C and 1-D groups will bring challenges, especially getting people both shots in the two-vaccine regimen.