March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine – Sara Ziegler (CDC)

Sara Ziegler, Lead for the National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine, provided an overview of this virtual meeting, which was held on February 22–24, 2021. During the Forum’s almost 11 hours of content, over 100 expert speakers provided information and participated in panel discussions on promising practices, practical strategies, how to address challenges, and critical partnerships. All sessions included an overarching emphasis on equity.

As highlighted on the agenda, each day of the Forum was structured around a specific theme:

  • February 22 – Building Trust and Confidence
  • February 23 – Using Data to Drive Vaccine Implementation
  • February 24 – Optimizing and Maximizing Equitable Vaccine Access

Daily meetings began with an opening plenary, followed by 4 concurrent Town Hall sessions.

Forum speakers represented 87 organizations across 8 different sectors. The majority were from non-governmental organizations and state/local public health departments. The speaker pool was rounded out by representatives from federal agencies, healthcare organizations, academic institutions, private companies, tribes, and state and local government. These individuals represented both geographic and partner diversity.

Over 13,000 persons registered for the event, with almost half registering for all 3 days. Participants were highly diverse, and approximately 75% identified as practitioners or vaccine champions. Registrations were received from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 7 of 8 territories, as well as 189 tribes/tribal-serving organizations.

The Forum provided ample opportunities to submit questions. These currently are being categorized and will be added to the website. In addition, the website includes a robust Resources Page offering a wide variety of helpful information and tools for improving the COVID-19 response. These resources include both newly released materials and information submitted by the presenters and other partners. The page also includes a social media toolkit and videos highlighting the entire event and the finale.

Sara noted that some of the key lessons from the Forum include:

  • Equity must be a central component of all planning.
  • Strong relationships with trusted community partners are critical to building confidence.
  • Data must guide our actions.
  • There must be accountability to assure we’re getting into every community. We need to leverage existing infrastructures to reduce barriers and maximize access.
  • Everyone has a role to play.

Sara emphasized the importance of engaging trusted voices within communities, e.g., the Black Coalition Against COVID-19. Planning also should ensure easy access to mass vaccination clinics, utilizing locations such as Black churches, sports arenas, and pharmacies participating in the federal retail pharmacy program. All strategies should ensure that no community is left behind. Several stories about this were included in the Day 3 presentations.

COVID Surveillance Update – Ben Silk (CDC)

Ben Silk, lead for surveillance and analytics in CDC’s Respiratory Viruses Branch, gave a presentation highlighting new webpages now available for information on COVID and other viruses of respiratory importance.

The growth of CDC’s COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review has offered the ideal opportunity to facilitate access by consolidating as much CDC COVID data into one location as possible. Views on CDC’s COVIDView Report have been falling since July, and this information will be moved to the Data Tracker site. (Previously published COVDView information will be archived.) In addition, FluView and COVID-NET (active surveillance network collecting data on COVID hospitalizations) also will be moved to the Data Tracker webpage.

The COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review will provide narrative interpretations and visuals summarizing the week’s trends. Initially, the data presented on the site will include:

  • trends on reported cases, new hospital admissions, and deaths;
  • COVID-19 vaccine doses administered; and
  • map of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

The site increases flexibility for adding other surveillance data and spotlighting timely analyses. COVID Data Tracker was launched on February 12, and it will be updated each Friday to align with media briefings. Individuals may subscribe to receive an email notification when the information is updated. on.

Summit partners discussed their concern about whether reduced testing might be hampering our ability to monitor the evolution of variants. Ben noted that this issue was discussed in last week’s report. However, HHS is also focused on sequencing of a larger numbers of tests.

Following another question, it was noted that the protective window following receipt of Janssen vaccine is the same as the mRNA vaccine, i.e., 2 weeks after series completion (after dose 2 of mRNA and after the single dose of Janssen vaccine).

Carolyn announced separate sites are available for tracking COVID surveillance data and COVID Vaccine.

  • Influenza Meeting – The Summit is scheduling a virtual influenza vaccine meeting on May 20. This will mimic the typical third day at in-person Summit meetings, including information such as updates from the flu vaccine manufacturers. More information will be released soon.
  • Future Summit Calls – Be sure to watch for details about upcoming Summit calls. The March 11 call will include presentations by a representative from the Coalition to Stop Flu, and Janssen also is scheduled to provide an update on their vaccine rollout. The March 18 call will include a panel facilitated by Claire Hannan, Executive Director of the Association of Immunization Managers. Presenters representing Alaska, Indiana, and Chicago will discuss varying strategies for implementation of COVID-19 vaccine across differing geographies.
  • Summit Website – Remember that the Summit website includes a wealth of tools and information on how to improve adult vaccination coverage.
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