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Fast-Track Vaccines

How vaccination is going in Appalachia

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Jan 29, 2021
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Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Fast-Track Vaccines

How vaccination is going in Appalachia

David Brancaccio and Rose Conlon Jan 29, 2021
Heard on:
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The “Marketplace Morning Report” has been keeping tabs on arguably the biggest logistical operation in human history: COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Our latest check-in is with a nurse coordinating vaccine distribution in the Appalachian region of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.

Jamie Swift is chief infection prevention officer at Ballad Health, a hospital and clinic group. She spoke with host David Brancaccio, and the following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

David Brancaccio: You have people 75 and older coming in now for their second booster shot. Tell me about a day in your life as you work to make that happen.

Jamie Swift: It really has been a team effort up here. We have, currently, what we’re calling community vaccination clinics. We have those set up not within our hospitals. They’re in different buildings and things that we have throughout the region. So, really just getting people in that appointment and getting them through their second dose. We know who came in for their first shot, they get an appointment to come in for their second shot, so the day and time they need to come back to that same location. And then we know if we’ve had people that haven’t shown up, and we will follow up with those individuals.

Brancaccio: It’s interesting you’ve got to do this across state lines — it does add some complexity.

Swift: Yeah, it is very different. They’re even in different phases. So Virginia is 65 and up; Tennessee is still 75 and up. Some are doing teachers, some are not. So it really is very different messaging. Even though we’re one organization, our sites are having to operate very differently as we follow the lead of the state health departments.

Brancaccio: So we, over here, don’t have enough vaccine, here in parts of the East. Our region is not alone in this. Do you have enough there?

Swift: We do not. The demand far outweighs the supply at this point. So you know, at this point, we’re honestly having to stand down our community vaccination clinics, until we get more vaccines. So we’re finishing the second doses, those come automatically. We just don’t have any more first doses to offer in those clinics. We are having to pull back on the community vaccination clinics in Tennessee. In Virginia, we’re still able to keep those two sites open.

Brancaccio: What about the trained people you need to pull all this off? Because this is going to be going on for a while.

Swift: It is. When we open these community vaccination clinics, we actually reached out to several of our retired nurses. We’ve hired them back to just come in and work a few hours each day and give vaccines. And that’s been a great partnership with some of those nurses who were more than willing to help, but had retired and moved on and not really working at the bedside anymore.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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