The COVID-19 vaccine that hopefully will be available later this year or early next year will be distributed in three phases, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation chief executive officer Esther Muña.
Speaking at the Saipan Rotary Club’s general meeting last Sept. 22, Muña stated that the first phase will be for the healthcare workers and frontliners, second, will be the people who are most vulnerable and children, and then lastly, for everyone else.
According to CHCC chief operations officer, Subroto Banerji, the vaccine preparations are in the planning stages, but the goal once the vaccine comes in is not only to prioritize but to push out the vaccine into the community.
Additionally, Banerji said that there will be a vaccine depot where CHCC will be the central place to get the vaccine, but they will are still working with CNMI Homeland Security to come up with a effective, strategic plan. With the 6 feet distance safety measure this vaccine depot will help the hospital to not be overcrowded with patients.
Banerji says that these vaccines will have to be under “different levels of management,” which means different temperatures for the vaccine. Banerji said that one vaccine will be -80º, another will be -30º F, and another at room temperature. Given the climate of Saipan, Banerji said that he’s interested to see how decisions will be made.
The vaccine, however, might not be a one-time shot and then you’re done. Banerji said that they’re hearing that the vaccine shots will be taken 28 days apart from each other.
With concerns that the vaccination might be mandatory, Muña says that is a decision Gov. Ralph DLG Torres will have to make. Also, Muña says that they’re looking into their council on what they can do because CHCC wants to make sure that the vaccine is safe and effective.
Though CHCC can’t force anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccination, Banerji says that they want to utilize the flu vaccine as a way to sensitize the community to value the vaccination. Additionally, CHCC has been doing a stellar job with the immunization program and catching up with childhood vaccinations.
With the huge turnout of childhood vaccine, Banerji says that their planning group is considering to do a community survey because there’s an intention to roll out a community-driven communications plan that is centered on science but also recognizes the concerns the community has.
The community surveys will also help CHCC with their vaccination strategies.