Despite their willingness to participate, only one in five GPs said they gave their patients the vaccine. This was found in a survey conducted in mid-January by the Larry A. Green Center with the nonprofit Primary Care Collaborative. Given the widespread supply shortages, many were unable to get the vaccine and a third of them said they had not had contact with their local health department.
Dr. Katelin Haley, a family doctor in Lewes, Delaware, is one of the lucky few who just received 240 doses of the vaccine and will immunize patients this week. Your employees had asked the state every day when they could expect a delivery. “The hunt for the vaccine was almost a full-time occupation,” she said.
While Dr. Haley, who also works with Aledade, agrees with the state’s struggle for adequate supplies of the vaccine, she believes practices like hers need some of the doses. “It’s a delicate balance to meet the needs of the state and the needs of the individual practice,” she said.
Some doctors, like Dr. Altman, have received small amounts of the vaccine but do not know when they may have enough to immunize all qualified patients. At the end of January, Dr. Despite the cold weather, Altman and his staff vaccinated 200 patients in the practice parking lot. “The patients were literally in tears, they were so grateful for our efforts,” he said.
The Trump administration left it up to states to determine how to distribute the vaccines, and states and even local communities are taking different approaches. “So much of whether primary care is used effectively depends on the state,” said Ann Greiner, executive director of the Primary Care Collaborative.
Although the demand for vaccines is currently outstripping supply, it is important to rely on family doctors to vaccinate the public when supply exceeds demand later in the year, said Dr. Asaf Bitton, a family doctor who is the general manager of Ariadne Labs, is at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Your involvement will be crucial in overcoming vaccine hesitation and achieving herd immunity.
As some conversations begin, “they should have started six months ago,” he said.