At the start of the pandemic, there were a lot of unknowns. How long would social distancing mandates keep us from our regular lives? If and when a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, who would get it first?
The pace at which we’re reentering society may be faster or slower than expected, but here we are over a year after the start of the pandemic, with over 52.6% of the US population having received at least one dose.
The level of dedication and determination from healthcare workers as they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic was like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
Our healthcare system was tested, and here at Remote Medical International (RMI), we seized the chance to work collaboratively across public and private sectors to keep people safe and healthy, at first with COVID-19 screening and testing, and now with corporate COVID vaccine staffing services.
Fulfilling a Remarkable Request
In April, one of our health and safety services clients asked us to build and oversee a vaccination effort for their local community–to vaccinate as many members of the county of Santa Cruz, Arizona as possible. This project was different because our client wasn’t just looking to vaccinate their own employees; our client saw the need to vaccinate the greater community with the resources they had available.
Where did we start?
It’s important to remember that a vaccination effort like the one for COVID-19 has never happened at this scale. Historically, most vaccines are given in a pediatric setting, for children, very early on in their lives.
A common exception is vaccinating adults for the flu annually. However, making appointments for yearly flu vaccinations can’t be compared to the nationwide size and scale of the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
It’s well beyond any early childhood or seasonal flu vaccination effort.
Photos from RMI’s COVID-19 vaccination project in Arizona.
To help with this, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a declaration of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) that provided flexibilities for those providing health care services in this emergency.
This allowed a faster and more effective testing and vaccination effort. Here’s how we approached the project:
Understanding the Landscape
To start, we needed to become a certified vaccination site. To get there, it required following the FEMA Community Vaccination Playbook very closely and following the mandates set by the CDC, the state of Arizona, and understanding the needs and limitations of the Santa Cruz community.
By using the FEMA playbook, we were able to work with the community to identify the location of the vaccination site, the resources we could provide and where the community of Santa Cruz could fill in the gaps.
Sending in our Experts
After registering as a certified vaccination site, we immediately brought in our medical experts from around the country to Santa Cruz. To administer vaccines at the required scale, we needed the authority to bring practitioners from outside of the state.
The PREP Act allowed us to grant emergency licensure to practitioners not already licensed in the state of Arizona.
Leveraging our Experience
Our professionals have extensive experience working with government entities, allowing us to streamline technical government processes and get projects moving. Once we had these critical components in place, we were ready to start the 15-day vaccination effort.
Driving Public Partnerships to Serve a Community
RMI was an active partner when working with local officials to spread awareness about the availability of vaccinations.
We distributed information throughout the community, from posting information in public places to word of mouth in small businesses; we leveraged the grassroots effort of public health officials to ensure everyone who wanted a vaccine in Santa Cruz county could receive one.
RMI Vaccinated Hundreds of People
Over the 15-day period with the support of our client, and the Santa Cruz community, RMI vaccinated hundreds of people in Santa Cruz county. During that period, the county became one of the counties in AZ with the highest vaccination rate.
Our team understands that without community buy-in, a driven sponsor, and a willingness to work with federal, state and local officials, a program like this would have never materialized.