Nonclinical workers vaccinated at academic hospitals

As some hospitals work to get their front-line staff vaccinated, several academic medical centers have started vaccinating nonclinical employees, contrary to federal guidelines, according to The New York Times.

The CDC recommends first doses be offered to healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients and residents of long-term care facilities. The next group to be vaccinated is people age 75 and older, as well as front-line essential workers such as police officers, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers and teachers. While the CDC is providing these recommendations to federal, state, and local governments, states have their own plans for distribution and deciding who will be first in line. 

But, despite these guidelines, some medical center administrators and young graduate students — who are not part of the CDC's first tier priority group, do not interact with patients, and are not age 75 or older — have been inoculated, according to the Times

For example, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston, researchers who may be exposed to coronavirus samples and those engaged in clinical trials have received shots, Rich Copp, a spokesperson for the hospitals, told the newspaper.

Mr. Copp said that is because some laboratory scientists may need to provide support in hospitals during the pandemic. And in New York City, NYU and Columbia-affiliated hospitals also allowed low-risk employees to be inoculated ahead of millions of state residents who needed the vaccine, according to the Times. The newspaper also cited Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. 

According to Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD, an immunologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and a member of the committee that helped inform the recommendations, the CDC didn't intend for hospital administrators and graduate students to be included in the first tier of inoculations.

"This all got so confusing,” Dr. Perlman told the Times. "In retrospect, I think it probably needed to be a little more exact on what we were thinking, because we were never thinking about hospital administrators."

Overall, vaccine administration the U.S. has been slow. Nearly 9 million people had received their first shot as of Jan. 11, according to the CDC, but that figure is well below the country's initial goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. 

Read the full Times article here


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