How BGSU flu shot clinics could provide key research for COVID-19 vaccine planning
As the world turns its attention to a COVID-19 vaccine, BGSU public health experts and researchers are working rapidly on how to implement large-scale immunizations most efficiently, ahead of what could be one of the all-time largest vaccination efforts to span the globe.
This fall, BGSU hosted a series of flu shot immunization clinics on campus that set the stage for the data collection.
Dr. Jinha Lee, assistant professor in the Department of Public and Allied Health, worked with both graduate and undergraduate students on the high-impact research. Together, they collected data at the BGSU flu shot clinics to measure how long each step of the vaccination process took, from arrival to departure and every step in-between.
“We want to learn from our current experiences,” said Lee. “Once we measure how the system flows and how many people can move through the flu clinic, we can collect the raw data and apply it to future vaccination sites.”
BGSU collaborated with Wood County Hospital and leveraged the hospital's partnership with the pharmacy program at the University of Findlay to offer the on-campus clinics. Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, the University doubled the amount of vaccinations administered this year, providing key clinic-flow data points.
“The flu clinic is a pilot test,” said Lee. “The future immunization process, particularly with the COVID-19 vaccine, will require resources and time, but we don’t know how many people will get vaccinated and how many vaccines can be administered in a set period.”
“The barriers at our flu shot clinics were similar to past barriers the health department has seen in other flu clinics,” said BGSU Chief Health Officer and former Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. “Let’s study where there were slowdowns, why that is happening and how we can improve the process to move people through faster for higher vaccination volumes.”
After data collection, the research team will generate computer simulations to determine how to predict and streamline the vaccination clinic process, a critical step in planning and preparing for vaccination clinics in the future.
Lee will then present the information to Batey for the University and its public health partners including the Wood County Health Department and Wood County Hospital. The research will also be available for other health departments and entities to plan for large-scale vaccination events.
“We will all be talking about this,” said Batey. “We are going to need to vaccinate a lot of people quickly and this study will show how we can do it better.”
“This is going to be a worldwide problem,” Lee said. “This vaccination research is a time-study to collect data and generate a computer simulation to apply to multiple scenarios that we might encounter over the next year.”
Lee is in an experienced public health researcher who specializes in using data to examine and solve issues in the health care industry. He has previously collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control on similar predictive public health computer simulations.
This current research is expected to be completed in early 2021.