Report: Primary care physicians still waiting for COVID-19 vaccination

Update: Physician organizations are speaking out against the issue.

As COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines are distributed across the country, a report from Stat News shows that primary care physicians are not getting vaccinated.

Despite federal guidance including primary care doctors in the first group to receive COVID-19 vaccines, a number of physicians and administrators told Stat News that many feel left behind in the rollout.

As much of the focus in regard to COVID-19 vaccinations has been on hospitals, this ignores the role that primary care physicians play. The Stat report cites the most recent round of the Larry A. Green Center and Primary Care Collaborative (PCC) COVID-19 survey which found that, as of the week of Dec. 11-15, only 23 percent of primary care physicians know from where they will receive the vaccines while only 20 percent know how it will be stored.

In response to the report, Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) released a statement saying that these physicians should not be left in the lurch.

“The vast majority of healthcare in this country is delivered outside the hospital setting and independent practices shouldn’t be penalized because of their affiliation status,” he says in the statement. “We need to protect clinicians and staff in the outpatient setting where most patients receive care. Medical practices will play a major role in vaccine distribution across the country, yet lack of federal coordination is creating huge variability with distribution, administration, education, and access in the states.”

Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president of the American College of Physicians, said that vaccinating physicians is critical.

“The approval of COVID-19 vaccines is critical in helping our frontline health care workers treat and care for patients and for those workers to remain healthy and continue carrying out their essential roles,” she said. “We must ensure that all clinicians, including those in small, independent primary care practices, can care for patients and do so without exposing themselves to the virus, and then vaccinating and protecting those individuals most likely to become severely ill or die.”

Shawn Martin, executive vice president and CEO of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), says that his organization is aware of the issue.

"Primary care physicians in communities across the United States are providing care to millions of patients, both for COVID and non-COVID illnesses," Martin said in a statement. "These physicians are delivering important preventive care, especially for patients who have chronic conditions that put them at higher risk. Vaccinating these primary care physicians and their care teams helps protect not only them, but patients who have health care needs that require in-person care. The problem of making sure these physicians can all get vaccinated isn’t resolved yet – and it needs to be. We’re working to raise awareness and secure a workable solution for family physicians who haven’t yet been able to receive their vaccine.”