Pharmacist Alfred Layman Jr clarifies some confusions about vaccine


Ever since the announcement of the COVID vaccine becoming available, many have had questions. Information from different outlets can be confusing, so Alfred Lyman Jr, Executive Director, Regional Pharmacy Services, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region, helps break down the process  a little deeper. 

Lyman’s role is co-leading the pharmacy efforts from the Kaiser Permanente with three other health systems (Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Health, and Providence). The combined effort of all of our health systems working together to vaccinate Oregonians is under the name of All4Oregon

The storage and distribution is managed by the facility that has the proper freezers and refrigerators used to store the vaccine. Then it’s distributed into the appropriate containers, along with supply kits, to the Oregon Convention Center (OCC). At OCC, the Pharmacy is then also responsible for managing the proper storage and inventory of the vaccine until it reaches a patient. Something Lyman didn’t expect to go so smoothly was “the amazing collaboration between four different health systems and pharmacy departments to come together as ‘one.’” 

Lyman also added that from the onset, it was very important that they put aside their own ways of doing things in order to develop the best practices and processes to be used at the OCC site. 

He and his coworkers wanted to ensure it was as simple as possible for patients most importantly, as well as the staff and volunteers. Lyman commented that based on the volume of vaccinations that are happening (over 5,000 per day), Pharmacies have been able to successfully implement a very streamlined and effective approach to vaccinating Oregonians. He says it’s amazing to see what our health systems can do collectively together for the benefit of all Oregonians.  

Lyman also mentioned some things were a little more difficult in the process. 

“One of the challenges in the process, especially early on, has been the limited supply of vaccine available.  There has been much more demand than available supply, which I am optimistic will be changing soon with more supply becoming available,” Lyman said.

When the supply of the vaccine was smaller, inventory had to be managed very closely. Also at the beginning, the vaccine supply was still coming to local health systems and pharmacies separately, so they had to transfer inventory into a centralized distribution center. 

  While challenging, workers were still able to implement a process to ensure supplies were accounted for and Oregonians could get quickly vaccinated.  

Some people have hesitations about the vaccine and what side effects they may cause. According to Lyman, something that you can be completely assured of is that the vaccine will not alter your DNA. There are myths out there about the vaccines, especially Pfizer and Moderna, which are both mRNA vaccines. These are newer technologies and while they were granted use under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) program, and Lyman is confident they are safe and effective. 

Certainly, there are minor side effects that can occur, which is typical of any vaccine or medication. More serious side effects are extremely rare.

“In my professional opinion the benefits far outweigh any potential risks and as a pharmacist, I would not hesitate to recommend any of the current COVID vaccines available in the US.” Lyman says. 


As for the future of the vaccine, the supply and distribution are ramping up and community members are starting to see much more availability.  Exactly to what degree, is not entirely known yet, but preliminarily, it looks like we should have enough vaccines available to start vaccinating all adults after May 1 (This has also been reported by President Biden.) 

It’s unclear yet when younger children and young adults (under the age of 16) will be able to receive the vaccine.  Currently, persons 16 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine, while the Moderna vaccine age limit is 18. Both Pfizer and Moderna have begun clinical trials to study the vaccines in persons down to age 12. AstraZeneca (vaccine currently not authorized in the US) has begun clinical trials down to age 6. Students and their families who are interested in getting the vaccine, can follow instructions provided by the district. 

According to Lyman, the early Fall of 2021 would be very optimistic and looking at it more realistically, the very late 2021 to 1st quarter of 2022 time frame before we start vaccinating those younger than 16.  

It is likely that there will be an ongoing need for COVID vaccines and boosters. As more data and clinical trials are done, this picture will become more clear. It’s important to remind everyone that it is still extremely important to stay vigilant with washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing until more of the population can be vaccinated. 

 With 28.8% Oregonians fully vaccinated and 42.6% with at least one dose, there is much hope and optimism with the vaccines in Oregon. 

Link to covid vaccine sign up and more info