Vaccinating Cincinnati Children’s: Two Perspectives

Not even a worldwide pandemic can dampen the collaborative spirit that Cincinnati Children’s is known for. If nothing else, it only seems to make it stronger. Here’s an inside look at what it’s taken to vaccinate our frontline staff against the COVID-19 virus from two of our key coordinators.

View from a Clinic

They call themselves the “A Team”—Anna Sheets, DNP, RN, senior director, Health and Safety; Angela Aull, project administrator, Patient Services, and Amber Antoni, MSN, RN, director, Emergency Management. Together, they’ve organized the COVID vaccine clinic for employees that has been up and running since Dec. 23, working with a shifting pool of 20 to 30, primarily nurses reassigned from other areas.

The clinic operates Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm, in the Sabin Auditorium. At this writing, staff have administered 7,795 first doses of the Moderna vaccine to employees in the 1A group and are giving out second doses. Getting vaccines into the arms of frontline caregivers has proved to be an exercise in flexibility, patience, and all-consuming coordination with numerous departments.

“The Moderna vaccine was approved on Dec. 18, while Pfizer was approved the week before,” recalled Sheets. “We saw other organizations receiving vaccine, and we were uncertain when we would get it and how it would work. When doses arrived on Dec. 21, we were thrilled. It felt like an early Christmas gift.”

Just two days later, the first clinic opened in S1.203, but the team quickly realized they could move faster and immunize more employees if they had a larger space. So, they moved to the Sabin Auditorium.


A Pharmacist’s Take

Talk to John Hingl, RPh, director of Pharmacy Operations, about the COVID vaccine, and he’ll tell you what a logistical challenge it is to provide the right number of doses to employee clinics each day without waste.

“We’ve tried to move quickly and make all the right decisions, but ‘fast’ and ‘perfect’ often don’t go hand in hand,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time planning and a lot of time changing plans.”

Hingl and his team have been preparing for the COVID vaccine, beginning with enrolling Cincinnati Children’s as a vaccination site on Nov. 16 last fall. Nine days later, we were approved. The first batch of vaccines arrived on Dec. 21, and the first injections started on Dec. 23.

“We purchased freezers for the Pfizer vaccine, thinking that’s what we would get, but we got Moderna instead,” he said. “Both manufacturers have detailed instructions on how to receive the vaccine, so we had to create a process for each that includes setting up an inventory of the product, maintaining a running inventory as we use it and transferring vaccine from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw and constant temperature monitoring.”


From a Vaccine Recipient

"I was one of the first people to get the vaccine at Cincinnati Children's," said Jason Frischer, MD, director, Colorectal Center (pictured here). "It was an exciting moment. Almost all of us at the medical center have seen the effects of COVID. So to receive the vaccine was exciting.

"It was also bittersweet knowing that I got the vaccine but my family did not, friends did not and some coworkers did not. I am hoping that soon everyone can get it, so we can all be protected.

"As far as the process was concerned. The organization did the best it could, and it was seamless. I just wish there were 17,000 vaccines for all of our employees."

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