NAH leader: Only half of employees opted for vaccines
VERDE VALLEY — John Mougin said vaccine participation is slightly higher among Flagstaff-area Northern Arizona Healthcare employees than in the Verde Valley.
Overall, only about 50% of NAH’s 2,800 employees took the two-part Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, he said.
Mougin, chief quality officer for NAH, said during Monday’s monthly press briefing that some employees are taking “more of a wait-and-see” approach to vaccines.
The administrator said there is no internal mandate for NAH staff to receive vaccine, despite the organization being at the front of the line. In a live webcast event in late December, several NAH staff from both Flagstaff and at Verde Valley Medical Center received the vaccine with enthusiasm.
“It is still highly encouraged, and staff can still get it, if they want to,” Mougin said. “The CDC is still recommending at least 70% of the U.S. population need to be vaccinated for herd immunity to take place.”
Dr. Leon Pontikes, chief medical officer for Verde Valley Medical Center, said all staff still have maximum personal protective equipment protocols in place for a wide variety of work tasks.
Regarding vaccination of the general public, NAH still doesn’t have mobile or other vaccine clinic in the Verde Valley, due largely to supply of one or more of the vaccines, Mougin said. He said NAH will use its website, social media and other means to get the word out, once a Verde Valley site is up and is distributing the vaccine.
Currently, nahealth.com has a page devoted to allowing Coconino County residents to book vaccine appointments. An Elks Lodge in Flagstaff is a site listed there as a distribution location.
NAH is currently sending visitors to the Yavapai County Community Health Services website, yavapai.us/chs, for a list of vaccine resources.
The public can also visit specrtumheatlhcare-group.com for a list of appointments, or visit the websites of CVS, Walgreens or Safeway stores.
Mougin said supply will dictate a great deal about how quickly the Verde Valley public can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
“You did hear President Biden said he wants the whole country to be category-eligible by May 1,” Mougin said. “We’ll put the word out and allow scheduling as soon as we find out we’re getting a particular quantity shipment.”
There has been some progress to report, Pontikes said. As of Monday, for example, there were zero COVID-19 patients on ventilators at Verde Valley Medical Center.
The administrator said until the country gets to 70% vaccination, it’s important to continue physically distance, use sanitizer, wear masks and wash one’s hands whenever possible.
As of Wednesday, about 58,000 of Yavapai County’s 235,000 residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. About 47,000 of Coconino County’s 143,000 residents have received at least one dose.
Locally, the burden of COVID-19 on the healthcare industry seems to be “plateauing,” Mougin said. Wednesday, Verde Valley Medical Center only had one COVID-positive patient and
Mougin was asked if NAH could receive any new support from the Arizona Department of Health Services on the vaccine front.
“More supply would be great, to more areas,” Mougin said. “And mobile vaccine units, if the state can provide or help provide those, that would really help the rural areas.”
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