Coronavirus: Primary care physicians taking part in vaccine effort, many await supply

Keith A. Reynolds

Primary care physicians are getting involved with the vaccination effort, but only 19 percent say they’re currently administering the shots.

Primary care physicians are getting involved in the drive to vaccinate the public against the COVID-19 coronavirus, but few are able to put shots in arms.

According to a news release, the latest round of a weekly survey of primary care clinicians from the Larry A. Green Center and the Primary Care Collaborative found that only 19 percent of respondents are currently administering the COVID-19 vaccine while 32 percent say they’ve not been included in any state or regional planning and don’t know if or when they will receive doses. A further 25 percent of respondents say they’re waiting for delivery.

Despite the lack of vaccine supply, primary care is doing some part to advance the effort by referring a patient to a known source when asked for the vaccine (47 percent), carry information in their practices to share with patients (42 percent), and proactively notifying all their patients about how to get the vaccine (30 percent), according to the release.

Smaller practices are being left behind in supplying the vaccine as 44 percent of respondents say that their local health systems can get the vaccine while small and independent practices cannot. Meanwhile, 65 percent of respondents say primary care should be partnering with public health and 62 percent say they should partner with local health systems to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, the release says.

Yet, more primary care clinicians have been vaccinated themselves with 89 percent reporting they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and only 6 percent reporting they have not been able to get vaccines for their practice’s clinicians or staff. There is still some levels of vaccine hesitancy among physicians with 13 percent of respondents saying they have clinicians in their office who are against use of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the release.

While the vaccines have brought relief from the pandemic within sight, 55 percent of respondents say this surge is “much worse” than any other point in the pandemic and 15 percent say they personally know primary care practices that have closed. A further 35 percent say they personally know clinicians who have quit or retired early due to the pandemic, the release says.