'Call on me': Physicians call for larger role in next phase of vaccinations

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As COVID-19 vaccine supply begins to catch up with demand in the U.S., local physicians are asking to play a larger role in the next phase of the vaccine rollout targeting hesitant populations, The Hill reported April 25.

"We are one of the most trusted folks when it comes to vaccines, and when we talk about vaccine hesitancy … people want to go to that trusted resource, and usually that is their primary care physician," Ada Stewart, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told The Hill. She compared local physicians' efforts to get more access to vaccines throughout the rollout to a student with a raised hand saying, "Call on me. Call on me." 

Despite a March poll from Kaiser Family Foundation that found 50 percent of people taking the "wait-and-see" approach before getting vaccinated said they would be more willing to get it if offered during a routine medical visit, The Hill cited a recent survey that found just 38 percent of primary care physicians were currently involved in administering the shots. 

"There's really no reason why the community-based practices can't and shouldn't be involved,"  Shari Erickson, vice president of the American College of Physicians, told the news outlet, adding that the group has been urging both the federal government and state governments to revise distribution plans and emphasize physicians' roles. 

"We do strongly believe that primary care docs are going to have to play a significant role in the vaccination efforts," Bechara Choucair, White House vaccinations coordinator, told The Hill. "A lot of them are already playing a significant role, and we want to make sure that more and more of the primary care docs are playing a significant role in this vaccination effort, particularly as we come into this next phase of our vaccination plan." 

However, vaccine storage requirements are a potential barrier to involving more local physicians in the vaccination effort, officials told The Hill. If a local practice is only administering a small amount of doses each day, remaining doses from an opened vial could expire before they're used. 

Mr. Choucair said the administration is aware of this concern and is working through it, though he couldn't offer "any predictions of that that might look like at this point."

More articles on physician issues:
Viewpoint: 5 strategies to address cognitive impairment among aging physicians
Novant Health, NASCAR's Bubba Wallace partner to curb COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
Arizona health system removes Chinese dragon sculpture after backlash from Asian community 

 

 

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