HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – The massive undertaking of the vaccination process at Riverside is forging ahead, despite a challenging past several weeks because of limited supply.
“February was sort of a tight month,” said Riverside Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer Cindy Williams. “The state did not get much of an increase in allocation for much of February, but going into March, things are looking much better.”
Williams said with doses now heading to chain community pharmacies, such as Walmart, the Commonwealth is starting to see an increase in allocation.
“Some of vaccine coming to the state may not be coming to health systems, but it is going into the community, into those pharmacies, which I think is a really important part of outreach because there my be patients who don’t have a routine primary care physician.”
Meantime, Riverside has been working with local partners and faith leaders to get the shot out to underserved communities.
“We’ve been partnering with local organizations to do clinics that are community-based, so not necessarily associated with our medical group,” Williams said. “We’re trying to identify vulnerable communities that may have lack of access to vaccine and form partnerships where we can make sure we’re getting vaccines into those communities.”
Williams is hopeful for a boost in COVID-19 vaccine supply as Moderna and Pfizer begin to ramp up their production and another vaccine inches closer to emergency use authorization.
Johnson & Johnson’s single dose-shot could be a game changer for those who may not be able to get that vital second shot recommended for the other vaccines.
“If you’re in a hospital - and we all know that hospitalized patients, the average length of stay is around four days - so you’re probably not going to be around for your second dose and you maybe lost a follow-up,” said Williams. “We may also think about population, such as the homeless population. Maybe those that don’t have permanent addresses or a relationship with a medical provider... would it make sense to have a one-dose vaccine and not risk loss of follow-up?”
Williams said Riverside’s use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will depend on how the state decides to dole out doses.
Nevertheless, she added, rollout efforts are looking up with supply expected to become less of an issue in the coming days.
“I do think those that have been frustrated to this point, there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Williams.