Vaccine distribution information
We know many people are eager to receive the vaccine, which is great news. We also know that interpreting the national and state phases and tiers can be confusing and frustrating. Montage Health and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System have had many questions from the public about vaccine availability and distribution. Together, we would like to share what we know.
Under the phased distribution system developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), hospitals were identified as a critical industry and were designated for the first distributions of vaccine. We are grateful that we’ve been able to begin vaccinating our workforce so we can continue to safely care for the community, especially with the dramatic and continuing increase in COVID-19-positive patients. We take this privilege very seriously, and we follow the rules of the state’s distribution system because it is the right thing to do.
Under the state system, hospitals may only provide vaccines to personnel of acute-care hospital systems. Other entities in this tier include psychiatric hospitals, personnel and patients of skilled nursing facilities (and other similar care facilities), paramedics and other similar emergency responders, and personnel in dialysis centers. In supporting this tiered system, Governor Gavin Newsom has said anyone who provides vaccine outside that group will be sanctioned.
We are using the hospital allocation of vaccine in Tier 1 of Phase 1A distribution to protect every member of our healthcare system who wants a vaccine. Our healthcare operations function as an integrated system, and employees in all components of that system contribute to our ability to provide quality care for our community. That approach has been recommended by both the CDPH and the Monterey County Health Department, and we’ve implemented it with their full support.
While people may think of doctors and nurses in the emergency departments and ICUs as our frontline care providers, there are many others who are vital to healthcare operations. It takes the entire staff working as a team to keep our COVID and non-COVID patients safe and to keep our facilities functioning. Our environmental services staff clean patient rooms and are responsible for the safety of all of our facilities; our facilities and engineering teams keep essential services maintained and have been responsible for a number of building modifications required to treat the surge of patients; nutrition services prepares and delivers meals to patient rooms and provides food to staff to support 24/7 operations; our security team interacts with patients, staff, and others coming into and out of the hospital; telephone operators connect patients and families; and our business office functions enable vital functions like issuing paychecks, ordering necessary supplies, paying our vendors, and collecting the payments that keep us financially viable. The current vaccine distribution at hospitals acknowledges the reality that all of our healthcare workers are essential, and we are treating them as such with the vaccine distribution.
While we are relatively well-stocked with PPE and ventilators, our key concern in the current surge is staffing. Protecting our staff and delivering patient care requires as many staff members as possible to be vaccinated.
Getting our community vaccinated
Local hospitals have told the Monterey County Health Department that we are ready and willing to help get the vaccine to the community, as it becomes available. Our ultimate goal is to have as many people vaccinated as quickly possible.