Inside a vaccination site at George Mason University in Fairfax City, Virginia. Since the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine, those involved in its distribution believe it has been running efficiently thus far. (Courtesy of Nicole Jones)

Allentown COVID-19 vaccination distribution running smoothly after streamlining processes

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Since the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine in Allentown, those involved in its distribution believe it has been running efficiently thus far. 

Vicky Kistler, director of the Allentown Health Bureau, believes vaccination distribution in the area has been going well. She said the process has been streamlined, allowing for efficiency and safety at the Agri-Plex in Allentown, where vaccinations are taking place.

“They (those being vaccinated) walk through a temperature screen, a registration process, get vaccinated, sit through their 15 minute observation period, and then head out on their way,” Kistler said. 

Joan Bass, a retired nurse practitioner volunteering to help administer vaccines, said she is impressed with the efficiency of the process.

“It’s such a smooth operation, especially for me to see, because I had to organize flu shots for populations where we might have had 1,500 people at the site,” Bass said. “They have this so well worked out.”

Bass said she was particularly impressed that patients already have their second vaccination appointment scheduled by the time they leave their first.

Dr. Wesley Kozinn, another volunteer helping to administer vaccines, said at first the process was a bit slow, but the Health Bureau did a great job fixing problems, allowing for the process to quicken. 

Kozinn said the Health Bureau gave those administering vaccines a scribe to help complete the accompanying paperwork, which helped the process.

“In my experience it cut down the time required to administer the vaccine at least in half,” Kozinn said. “I think things are really getting in gear now.”

Kozinn said he administered vaccines to several patients not from the area, and all were impressed by Allentown’s process.

He said each one couldn’t believe how efficient the system was.

Although many believe the distribution is running smoothly, issues have been encountered, Kistler said one problem the Health Bureau is still facing is the varying number of vaccines they are provided each day.

“Our issues have been the vaccine supply has been limited and the deliveries have been somewhat sporadic,” Kistler said. “So we’re hoping that that will improve, and we’ll be able to get more folks through because right now the demand far exceeds the supply of the vaccine.” 

However, Kistler said the Health Bureau has never disposed of a single dose of the vaccine.

Bass said to accomplish this feat, someone from the Health Bureau will come toward the end of each day to see how many doses each volunteer has left. If the number of doses is greater than the number of appointments scheduled, they’ll start calling people on waiting lists to come  immediately.

Kistler said Allentown is fortunate to have a large space where the vaccinations can take place. She said being in the Agri-Plex makes it easy to social distance as well as having ample parking and handicap accessibility.

“That’s a challenge if vaccination sites don’t have incredibly large spaces, but we’re lucky and we do,” Kistler said.

Kozinn said volunteering at the Agri-Plex has been a positive experience.

He said it was invigorating to participate in something so well-organized.

“It’s a team environment, and that’s what I like,” Kozinn said.

Kozinn said he decided to volunteer because he was impressed with the operation when he got vaccinated himself.  

He said volunteering was a great decision for him, and reminded him of how good it feels to help others.

“Leading a life in medicine is hard, and in a small way I had the ability to resume some of the feelings I had about caring for people as a physician,” Kozinn said.

Bass said her volunteer experience has been overwhelmingly positive as well, both in terms of her fellow volunteers and the patients.

“I’ve never worked with people who are so happy to be there,” she said. “The people that are working there and the people who are coming in.”

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