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AONL's Robyn Begley Advises Ways to Help Curb COVID-19

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   February 22, 2021

Nurse leaders explore how to reach President Biden's vaccination goal.

Predictability of vaccine shipments, overcoming vaccine hesitancy, and partnerships—both public and private—are key to curb the spread of COVID-19, said Robyn Begley, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, CEO of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) and chief nursing officer (CNO), senior vice president of workforce for the American Hospital Association (AHA).

Begley joined a panel of healthcare administrators Feb. 11 for the webinar, COVID-19 Vaccines: Preparing Your Organization for the Expanded Rollout to review what's been done and consider how to reach President Joe Biden's goal of 100 million vaccines by his 100th day in office.

"[He] recently suggested the nation could soon reach an average of 1.5 million shots a day," Begley said. "I believe there have been days where that number has been reached, but it hasn't been the average."

The Biden administration is working on providing predictability so vaccine locations know when they will receive vaccine supplies and can start using all of their supply, she said.

"Healthcare organizations and anybody administering the vaccine is hesitant to make the follow-up appointment until they know they have it in hand and the goal here is that distribution sites would get three weeks' notice of when they would receive the vaccine and how much," Begley said. "I know we've heard from our members that some healthcare organizations received two days' notice, so … it is problematic."

Some distribution sites likely are holding on to vaccines to ensure they have enough for the second dose, which slows the vaccination rate, she said.

"If we're able to provide predictability, this will enable everybody to use all their doses, and that will keep the flow going," she said.

Countering reluctance to get the vaccine also is key in the COVID-19 fight, she said.

"The administration announced it would deploy a more targeted vaccine campaign focusing on vaccine hesitancy groups—that is our own healthcare workers, minority communities, and members of the general public, where as many as 30%–35% are still hesitant to receive the vaccine," she said.

"We need to overcome vaccine hesitancy in order to reach the numbers required for herd immunity and that's in the 70% to 88% range," she said, "although there is some question about whether it is that high or could it be potentially lower."

One of the greatest challenges now is navigating registration for the vaccines, and public and private partnerships may be the answer, she said.

"The AHA did this early on with 100 Million Mask Challenge," she said. "We saw the need and we took the public initiative as well as solicited private partnerships with companies to be able to produce and distribute more masks."

The same can be done with vaccine registration and rollout, she said, referencing how Washington state partnered with Starbucks, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, Costco, Washington State Nurses Association, and others to create the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center. The center's goal is to vaccinate 45,000 citizens daily.

"The lessons to be learned here are best practices. AHA and our member healthcare organizations can help by sharing best practice [with other organizations] and what they are doing to augment the federal response," Begley said.

The collaboration she's witnessed has been inspiring, she said. "I really do need to say that I've never seen in my entire career such a willingness to help [by] dropping barriers, silos [and] turf wars," she said. "Everyone is in this to try to help us mitigate this pandemic."

"The AHA has also collaborated with the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association to address vaccine hesitancy," she said. "These are three organizations that don't always see exactly eye to eye, but they have worked very closely together to increase public acceptance of the essential actions that we need to take to curb the spread."

“The lessons to be learned here are best practices. AHA and our member healthcare organizations can help by sharing best practice [with other] organizations and what they are doing to augment the federal response. ”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: Photo Spirit / Shutterstock.com


KEY TAKEAWAYS

When vaccine locations can predictably know when they will receive a supply, they can comfortably use all their doses, instead of holding some back for second doses, which will keep the flow going.

Healthcare organizations can help with vaccine rollout by sharing best practices and what they are doing to augment the federal response.

Partnerships can further vaccine registration and rollout, as exampled by the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center.


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