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Hundreds of KCRA 3 viewers reached out on Facebook to ask questions about California’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.KCRA 3 turned to Dr. Doug Kirk, Chief Medical Officer at UC Davis Health, to answer some of the most common questions.Q: When can I get the vaccine and how will I be notified?Dr. Kirk: It really depends on what category of risk you’re in. We here at UC Davis Health have just begun vaccinating patients that are in the highest risk category. Those are patients who are greater than 75 years of age who have a number of high-risk comorbid diseases. That’s where we have started. That really follows both federal and state guidelines.Q: Do I sign up somewhere or am I supposed to wait for my local health department to call me?Dr. Kirk: I think that the two pieces of advice that I would give you, and particularly if you’re not a UC Davis Health patient, is we’ve made it very easy for this to happen for our patients. But really, you’re going to see public health announcements regarding this. You should likely see a lot of that on TV, radio and in the print. You can obviously refer to your local public health agencies. They should have information on their websites that describes the types and groups of patients that are being vaccinated. You can also reach out to your health care provider and they should have that information. I suspect they, like us, are getting inundated with phone calls which kind of distracts us from our work at times. That’s why we have posted on public-facing websites all the appropriate information for our patients in the public about when they’ll be called for their vaccine and when they should expect that to occur.Q: How will the older population be notified?Dr. Kirk: We’ve actually at UC Davis Health made this a little easier for the older population. We have provided access electronically, by phone and by website that they can have someone look into for them, but we will call them or write to them or contact them electronically. We can use any and all means to do so particularly for those who don’t have electronic access. Q: When will our students, including college students, get the vaccine?Dr. Kirk: Younger people and most college students, or younger people, do fall into lower-risk groups. Like you’ve probably seen with a vaccination program so far, we’re starting with higher risk groups because they’re the patients that will derive the most benefit from being vaccinated. As we’ve seen in the past year, older patients with comorbid illnesses are the ones that are being hospitalized and dying. Younger patients tend to fare very well with this disease. We’re doing this at a prioritization order. Those patients will be picked further down the list because, again, we’re trying to do the most we can as the vaccine is starting to roll out.Q: Is there a plan on how to go about getting childcare workers vaccinated?Dr. Kirk: I would refer them back to their local public health agencies for more specific information about where they specifically fall in one of the tiers.Q: California will start vaccinating people 65 and older. I’m 65. Can I get that vaccine now?Dr. Kirk: I gave this report yesterday. We’re obviously starting with a higher risk group, the age 75 and greater, But if there is ample supply of vaccine that flows down to us, as a healthcare provider, we will start to roll that out to all age groups, again, starting with the highest, but quickly working down through those lower tiers, including the 65 year and younger patients. So, it really depends on the vaccine supply chain. We have geared up the operations to be able to vaccinate a quite a large number of patients per day so we can receive vaccine in a readily fashion will vaccinate patients very quickly.Q: With California expanding vaccine eligibility, does the state have an adequate amount of vaccines? Dr. Kirk: The answer is probably no. We have not had a whole plethora of vaccine that has kept our refrigerators and freezers filled. I suspect that will change and we’ll see those results on the ground here pretty shortly. I suspect, as the federal government continues to push out larger volumes of vaccine, which is what they’ve indicated in the past two days that they’re going to do, because they’re not going to hold back for a second dose of vaccine in an effort to get more people vaccinated, I think when that starts to happen, and we see that flow of high volumes of vaccine, we’ll be able to move down through those tiers much more quickly.Q: If California doesn’t have an adequate supply does this pose a future problem?Dr. Kirk: As we add those additional age groups getting moving down in age, the volumes become larger. It will put pressure on those of us that are providing these vaccinations. We’re ramping up at UC Davis Health and I know other health systems, and local public health agencies like Sacramento Department of Public Health are ramping up vaccination sites as well. So it really is about appropriate matching of vaccine supply chain and the operations to put shots in arms.Q: When will business owners and people who work from home receive the vaccine?Dr. Kirk: Each of them will be a very specific answer that sort of depends again, on what risk they’re in and what tier they fall in. But again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but it really is referring back to those local public health departments and health care providers to see when they possibly could get vaccinated. A lot of it is predicated on how much vaccine supply chain. If the federal government can distribute vaccine to the states, the local health department’s, and then on to us health care providers — if that chain is intact and we have a high volume of vaccines, we’ll quickly move through those different age groups and get all those people vaccinated more timely.Q: Will low income or people with no health insurance have access to the vaccine?Dr. Kirk: The great news about that is that the vaccine itself is free. It’s really just the cost of putting shots in arms that is incurring additional expenses. We’re not passing those on to the patients. If we can’t get those through insurers, we’ll eat the cost on those, at least at UC Davis Health, and I know that’s true obviously at the local health departments as well. It will be irrespective of socioeconomic status.Q: How will the homeless population be notified?Dr. Kirk: It is a more difficult population to reach because of lack of connection but we are putting things up on websites. We are sending mailers out, we are communicating electronically. Any and all means that we can do, we do. We also take advantage of when patients are in our emergency department when they’re in our hospital. We are having these discussions with them about vaccination. At some point, we will start to vaccinate them with that opportunity that they’re here for another reason. As long as you’re not quite sick and are eligible for a vaccine, we will start to vaccinate those patients as well. That’s not happening yet but that is in the future.

Hundreds of KCRA 3 viewers reached out on Facebook to ask questions about California’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

KCRA 3 turned to Dr. Doug Kirk, Chief Medical Officer at UC Davis Health, to answer some of the most common questions.

Q: When can I get the vaccine and how will I be notified?

Dr. Kirk: It really depends on what category of risk you’re in. We here at UC Davis Health have just begun vaccinating patients that are in the highest risk category. Those are patients who are greater than 75 years of age who have a number of high-risk comorbid diseases. That’s where we have started. That really follows both federal and state guidelines.

Q: Do I sign up somewhere or am I supposed to wait for my local health department to call me?

Dr. Kirk: I think that the two pieces of advice that I would give you, and particularly if you’re not a UC Davis Health patient, is we’ve made it very easy for this to happen for our patients. But really, you’re going to see public health announcements regarding this. You should likely see a lot of that on TV, radio and in the print. You can obviously refer to your local public health agencies. They should have information on their websites that describes the types and groups of patients that are being vaccinated. You can also reach out to your health care provider and they should have that information. I suspect they, like us, are getting inundated with phone calls which kind of distracts us from our work at times. That’s why we have posted on public-facing websites all the appropriate information for our patients in the public about when they’ll be called for their vaccine and when they should expect that to occur.

Q: How will the older population be notified?

Dr. Kirk: We’ve actually at UC Davis Health made this a little easier for the older population. We have provided access electronically, by phone and by website that they can have someone look into for them, but we will call them or write to them or contact them electronically. We can use any and all means to do so particularly for those who don’t have electronic access.

Q: When will our students, including college students, get the vaccine?

Dr. Kirk: Younger people and most college students, or younger people, do fall into lower-risk groups. Like you’ve probably seen with a vaccination program so far, we’re starting with higher risk groups because they’re the patients that will derive the most benefit from being vaccinated. As we’ve seen in the past year, older patients with comorbid illnesses are the ones that are being hospitalized and dying. Younger patients tend to fare very well with this disease. We’re doing this at a prioritization order. Those patients will be picked further down the list because, again, we’re trying to do the most we can as the vaccine is starting to roll out.

Q: Is there a plan on how to go about getting childcare workers vaccinated?

Dr. Kirk: I would refer them back to their local public health agencies for more specific information about where they specifically fall in one of the tiers.

Q: California will start vaccinating people 65 and older. I’m 65. Can I get that vaccine now?

Dr. Kirk: I gave this report yesterday. We’re obviously starting with a higher risk group, the age 75 and greater, But if there is ample supply of vaccine that flows down to us, as a healthcare provider, we will start to roll that out to all age groups, again, starting with the highest, but quickly working down through those lower tiers, including the 65 year and younger patients. So, it really depends on the vaccine supply chain. We have geared up the operations to be able to vaccinate a quite a large number of patients per day so we can receive vaccine in a readily fashion will vaccinate patients very quickly.

Q: With California expanding vaccine eligibility, does the state have an adequate amount of vaccines?

Dr. Kirk: The answer is probably no. We have not had a whole plethora of vaccine that has kept our refrigerators and freezers filled. I suspect that will change and we’ll see those results on the ground here pretty shortly. I suspect, as the federal government continues to push out larger volumes of vaccine, which is what they’ve indicated in the past two days that they’re going to do, because they’re not going to hold back for a second dose of vaccine in an effort to get more people vaccinated, I think when that starts to happen, and we see that flow of high volumes of vaccine, we’ll be able to move down through those tiers much more quickly.

Q: If California doesn’t have an adequate supply does this pose a future problem?

Dr. Kirk: As we add those additional age groups getting moving down in age, the volumes become larger. It will put pressure on those of us that are providing these vaccinations. We’re ramping up at UC Davis Health and I know other health systems, and local public health agencies like Sacramento Department of Public Health are ramping up vaccination sites as well. So it really is about appropriate matching of vaccine supply chain and the operations to put shots in arms.

Q: When will business owners and people who work from home receive the vaccine?

Dr. Kirk: Each of them will be a very specific answer that sort of depends again, on what risk they’re in and what tier they fall in. But again, I hate to sound like a broken record, but it really is referring back to those local public health departments and health care providers to see when they possibly could get vaccinated. A lot of it is predicated on how much vaccine supply chain. If the federal government can distribute vaccine to the states, the local health department’s, and then on to us health care providers — if that chain is intact and we have a high volume of vaccines, we’ll quickly move through those different age groups and get all those people vaccinated more timely.

Q: Will low income or people with no health insurance have access to the vaccine?

Dr. Kirk: The great news about that is that the vaccine itself is free. It’s really just the cost of putting shots in arms that is incurring additional expenses. We’re not passing those on to the patients. If we can’t get those through insurers, we’ll eat the cost on those, at least at UC Davis Health, and I know that’s true obviously at the local health departments as well. It will be irrespective of socioeconomic status.

Q: How will the homeless population be notified?

Dr. Kirk: It is a more difficult population to reach because of lack of connection but we are putting things up on websites. We are sending mailers out, we are communicating electronically. Any and all means that we can do, we do. We also take advantage of when patients are in our emergency department when they’re in our hospital. We are having these discussions with them about vaccination. At some point, we will start to vaccinate them with that opportunity that they’re here for another reason. As long as you’re not quite sick and are eligible for a vaccine, we will start to vaccinate those patients as well. That’s not happening yet but that is in the future.

.

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