There’s a lot of misinformation and fear about the vaccine. Why should someone get the vaccine?
For me, I look at the vaccine as hope. Hope for a future when we won’t have to wear masks or be separated without connection to people because we have to keep a physical distance. But it’s also about protecting the health of our communities.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have lost a loved one during the pandemic. If they could have taken a vaccine six months ago to prevent that person from dying, I think they would have.
What did you learn from your experience working during the H1N1 pandemic that you are applying now to COVID-19?
We can do this. We have done this before. We have done mass vaccination campaigns that have vaccinated 80% of our community.
So, I’m hopeful that the incoming administration will prioritize organization and implementation processes that will help us achieve better outcomes. I don’t think it is too late.
What do you think about Nevada’s response to the pandemic?
I was impressed by the way the PODs were conducted during the first week. We vaccinated 600 people in four hours. From the appointment time, to the duration each person must be in observation. All of those little details were managed well. When additional community partners come online who can operate a POD, it really will accelerate how many people are being immunized.
What questions do you feel are not being asked or considered when it comes to COVID-19?
It would be easier if we had a coordinated effort and a clear vision for how that effort will be backed financially.
I don’t currently see any subgroups being disenfranchised because we are tackling the Tier 1 group. But it will be important to be mindful of populations such as people of color and the LGBT community because they often suffer from homelessness and challenges with mental health. We must find a way to get the vaccine to them. There has been discussion about using what we call strike teams for patient populations that are hard to reach and don’t have reliable transportation to access care.
What are you doing to stay healthy during the pandemic?
I have been very cautious, and I do not dine indoors. Studies have shown that indoor dining and bars are high-risk areas for infection. I will dine outdoors, and many places have heaters now. But I can’t tell you the last time I dined inside.
How have you changed from when you started as a pharmacist?
My love for public health has grown. I’ve always had this desire to help others, especially vulnerable populations. I’ve spent a decade working for the health department, advocating for public health, and helping the public understand why we need it.
Public health isn’t just vaccination – it’s clean water, clean air, it’s streets that are paved so that you don’t have a car accident, it’s sidewalks so that people can access public transportation, so they don’t get hit by a car, disaster preparedness… it’s so many things.
If I wanted to volunteer and help, where should I start?
You can sign up through Battle Born Medical Corps. You can be a non-medical or medical person, and you would tell them where you live and where you’re willing to be a volunteer.
* The United States Department of Homeland Security established The National Incident Management System (NIMS) in 2004. In Riverside, California, the United States Forest Service Forest Fire Laboratory developed the Incident Command System (ICS) in the 1970s in response to a series of catastrophic fires in California and integrated ICS into NIMS in 2004.