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Health Report: Fairbanks Public Health vaccinates over 1,600 in recent clinic

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 4:18 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks Public Health has vaccinated over 1,600 residents this week thanks to their Point of Dispensing (POD) event at the Carlson Center.

On February 5th and 9th, 2021 Fairbanks Public Health hosted a COVID-19 vaccination POD event. This was the second event hosted to administer vaccinations to the residents of Fairbanks. During the last event, Public Health reported administering around 1,200 vaccinations, and now is reporting expected vaccinations from the most recent event to be around 1,600.

“Our very first event, we had 1,200 doses to administer several weeks ago, and we made a decision then to do 600 a day, two days in a row. We learned a lot from that experience. One of the things that we really learned is that there are a lot of great people and organizations in Fairbanks that are willing to commit to really making sure that Fairbanks residents have access to the vaccine. So we formed a small steering committee in Fairbanks with community partners, and we are really deliberately and thoughtfully planning for future events,” said Elizabeth Burton, Regional Nurse Manager for Fairbanks Public Health.

Fairbanks Public Health attributes the success of their most recent event to a number of factors, including improving on the last vaccination POD they had conducted.

“Our smaller event that we had first... as I mentioned, they were successful. We delivered 1,200 doses of vaccine. But we also took the time to step back and look the next day at how things went, and had what we call a ‘hot wash’ where we talk about what went well. What were some challenges? Where can we improve? How can we become more efficient? And we tried to come up with a structure that’s scalable. So we can do 300 people or 600 or 900 or 1,200 and it would still work because we have a model that is scalable. So we can make it bigger when the demand increases or there’s more vaccines available, and we can still function,” commented Burton.

Public Health has held other vaccination PODs in the past including a flu shot event in 2020 which assisted them in learning what to expect.

“We often have a scenario where we try to address something in an emergency situation. We try to measure how many doses of whatever we’re giving can be given out in an hour. We realize what the population might be and how much time we have to deliver it, and then we develop a plan to try to hit a target - what we call throughput - the number of people we can get through in a certain period of time. All those years of practicing have helped us quite a bit,” said Burton.

The new organizational structure adopted for this most recent event was also a large contributing factor to the event’s success according to Burton. “We have just a very structured way of going about this. Our first event we did about 40 to 50 people working at the event. Now let’s say we double that number, we would be able to take the current structure that we’re working in and just plug in more leaders, more workers, and still successfully serve a large number of individuals. For example, the day we went from 600 up to 800, one of the things we did was we added more vaccinators. We really didn’t keep ourselves open longer, we just had more staff at certain key parts of the process, and we worked really hard not to have bottlenecks at the door, at the vaccine table, at the observation area. We looked at those things and learned where we could improve, and then we have expanded accordingly.”

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