doctor holding phone

As the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine rolls out nationwide, questions about who will get it and when have been occupying a lot of space. As many have reported, doctors and other health care providers will be first in line.

We decided to do an informal survey of providers and collect responses by email and on a variety of social media and other venues. We’ll be updating with further comments.

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A member of the hospital support staff in Birmingham, Ala., wrote, “My hospital is the only one in the area receiving the first batch of vaccine, expected next week, and we’ve been given very specific percentages of that vaccine that are for our facility vs others. 15% to first responders. 15% to nursing homes. 20% to vaccinate medical people at other facilities in the area. Some of these people will be going to a drive-through vaccine clinic we’re starting. I’m unclear on how nursing homes are being handled.”

Later, this person added: “Initially, only 8 hospitals in Alabama were scheduled to receive vaccine next week. Then last night I heard it was 15. Just now I found out one of those new ones is in my area – the VA hospital!! I’m so happy for them!”

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A specialist in Iowa answered our questions:

1. What have you been told about when you’ll get the vaccine? As a doc, we would think you would be first in line.

“I presume health care workers will be at or near the front of the line, but don’t know exactly when. We have the necessary freezers at the hospital and at my clinic.”

2-3. Who’s the honcho on this at your hospital? Do you have any knowledge of or links to the state vaccination protocol?

“I have no knowledge, but xxx would.”

4. Anything else we might want to know?  “I am so ready to get this behind me.”

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A nurse at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, in the pediatric intensive care unit, wrote on Dec. 15:

“We have no plan yet… we are not in the first round and rumor has it we are not in the second round.

“Pediatrics has not suffered as much as ADULT

“ED department should get first doses by tomorrow. (Not Pediatric ED)

“Communication here is pitiful. Everyone asking yet no answers.

“Crossing my fingers that I will get an offer of vaccine soon! I’ll take it!!

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A rheumatologist in private practice in Colorado wrote:

1. I haven’t been told anything; I just know what I have read. I’m a healthcare worker but not frontline caring for acute COVID patients. My feeling is all of the healthcare workers and staff including cleaning crew, etc. coming in contact with acute COVID patients should get the vaccine before I do.

2. [she has her own practice so there is no head honcho.]

3. I have not yet seen an official plan detailing the roll out in our state.

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A staff member at a big hospital in Iowa wrote that the doses will be staggered, not delivered all on the same day, considering the possibility of side effects. He wrote: My hospital “is planning to stagger across people in the units. The rate of side effects are more than the flu shot but lower than most other vaccines. There might be a day or two of feeling crummy. They plan to vaccinate close to a 1,000 people this week. Logistically, that probably means spacing it out over several days anyway. If you are going to do that regardless, why not play it safe and ensure no unit is hit by side effects all at the same time?
I’m not sure the option of ‘doing all the shots on the same day’ is viable (at least in large hospitals) so the insurance gained by spreading it out within a unit over time is free.”

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A New York area provider wrote: “I’ve told my … team, unless they have high risk issues, to assume we are not going to be in any of the initial vaccine waves at my primary care agency. Why? Because we are 100% remote and I firmly believe our providers, nursing, front desk should be the first ones to get it. We are only getting enough for 125-150 people in the first wave and we have 700-plus staff. Once it becomes available to us, the more than 30 people on my team have said they can’t wait to be vaccinated.”

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An emergency room doctor in the University of Maryland system wrote: “As an ER doc, I concur with all of the positive sentiments regarding the vaccine. I will be one of the first in line to receive the vaccine. Not only is the vaccine safe, but we owe it to our patients to keep them safe since we pose a significant risk to them if we are infected. … As healthcare workers and leaders, we must set an example to our patients, friends and communities so that they feel comfortable taking it and we can achieve herd immunity sooner.

“We expect to get the vaccine next week. There are a lot of moving parts but those of us in the ED and covid units are prioritized first. It is not mandatory at our shop yet but we expect most people to get it when offered.”

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A Colorado health care worker wrote on Dec. 15: “I signed up to get the vaccine this week at my hospital in Denver. We weren’t given guidance on when to get it, but I did schedule for before some days off. Basically, if we gets fever we can’t work, regardless of if we think it’s from the vaccine. … my husband just got his shot! I’m scheduled Thursday morning”

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A family physician with an inpatient practice who is also a medical informaticist in Baraboo/ Madison, Wis., wrote on Dec. 16: “Grateful as a frontline worker to have received mine this morning and can’t wait till I can get all of my patients (population) vaccinated. I am hoping to promote the safety and effectiveness of this particular vaccine and its potential usefulness in slowing and ending our pandemic and leading by example.”

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A New York area internist who is a member of a multi-specialty group wrote, “I have not been told when I will get the vaccine. I’m guessing I may be in the 2nd wave of recipients of vaccines for health providers–but it’s only a guess. I’m not on the “front lines”–ICU, ER–but I have been seeing COVID patients in the office. I’m also 67–not sure how that will figure into this.

“Not sure what you mean by links to the state vaccination ‘protocol.’ I get what look like routine, dry communications from the Dept of Health which are intended for health care providers–but there’s nothing particularly substantive or sexy in the content.”

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A Boston primary care doctor wrote:
“1. we got an online app from the state last week to fill out re this but no definite date re receiving them. I doubt it will be early though given i’m just a little guy. i’m sure the big hospital systems, CVS Minute Clinics etc will get them before we do. Just like the rapid tests and everything else covid related

“2. xxx is the Director of the Immunzation Division of DPH here

“3. enjoy the light reading lol https://www.mass.gov/doc/massachusetts-interim-draft-plan/download

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A Lawrence, Kan., primary care doctor wrote:

“1) Our county health department just announced phase 1A which includes healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID patients. I registered our clinic (myself, NP, and 2 RNs) and we’ve been told mid/late December, but not an exact date.

“2) Health dept partnered with the only hospital (LMH) in county/town.

3) https://www.lmh.org/news/2020-news/covid-19-vaccination-plan/. I think [The Kansas Department of Health and the Environment] published something as well.

4)  I’m tired of all this crap and very thankful promising vaccines are on their way…. soon-ish. 🙂

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A family practitioner/OB in Grinnell, Iowa, said, “Public health called to ask how many folks need vaccinated at our clinic!”

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A New York area doctor who works for Boston Children’s Health Physicians wrote:

“The vaccines for Boston Children’s health physicians are being handled by Westchester medical center. We are asked on a survey last week if we want it, our age, our job description, and if we work directly for WMC or if we are subcontractors, which BCHP is.

“I don’t know if it has arrived yet. Priority 1 top tier are the ER physicians. Next in line are ICU and hospitalists, which includes me. When I have a better idea about supply and distribution, I will let you know.”

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An operating room nurse wrote:

“Our hospital got the first shipment today. Waiting to hear about distribution. I’d assume I’ll be second tier (OR nurse). I’ll be rolling up my sleeve at the first opportunity.”

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One health care worker wrote: “Found out today that I’m going to be in our tier 2 of getting vaccinated as I work at our Covid testing site regularly. I can’t wait.”

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An Iowan in healthcare wrote:

“6pm tonight I join the ranks of the vaccinated. I too have some concerns–no idea of long-term complications; the approval had elements of being forced by government. but we simply have no choice. do I think the vaccine will be responsible for 1K deaths per day? Of course not. do I think COVID will cause 1K deaths per day? Clearly yes. while the approval was perhaps rushed, the study was not, and the data is now peer reviewed. Looking forward to getting it done and hope everyone else does the same.

“The political pressure was my main reason for being hesitant about the vaccine. Given Trump’s incompetence in all things Covid-related, his efforts to push the vaccine made me worry that corners were being cut in he approval process.

“I no longer am hesitant, because the research seems to have followed proper protocols and the data seems solid. That other countries also have approved the vaccine undercuts the concerns about Trump’s involvement.

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A Midwestern anesthesiologist wrote:

“I assume most here would jump at the chance at a vaccine. I should have an opportunity to get the vaccine sometime before Christmas and welcome the opportunity. I am very surprised at the number of people who do not want any part of the vaccine. Falls on all sides of the spectrum- anti Vaxers, distrust of science and government, some with no real discernible reason. It seems to be getting harder help people help themselves.”

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An emergency room nurse at Bronx Lebanon wrote:

1) I have been told my hospital should be receiving the vaccine soon, and that I am in the first group of people to receive the vaccine because I work ER. I believe the first group that qualify are ER, ICU, and NICU.

2) I’m actually unsure. I would imagine the infectious disease department would be in charge, but I don’t know if they are and I don’t know anyone in that department.

3) I don’t have any knowledge of vaccination protocol, all I know right now is that it’s supposed to be administered as 2 doses 3 weeks apart.

4) get the vaccine if you can! Please keep wearing a mask. Stay home for the holidays. I know that’s sad and lonely, but it’s truly what’s best.

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An intensive care nurse in the Midwest wrote:

1. Last week we had to decide to opt IN or OUT for the vaccine. We don’t have a specific time frame, but sometime in the next week or 2 we should be getting the first of the 2 doses. They’re in the process of setting up the schedule now based on when we receive our doses.

2. I don’t know who is in charge! My manager has been in contact with us, but we’ve been getting automated messages from Ascension in general, nothing super specific yet unfortunately.

3. I’m not sure but you’ve piqued my interest so I’m going to look

4. As of now , it’s not required at my hospital but highly recommended. I believe it’s the 2 part vaccine we are getting. Other than that, you know as much as I do ????.

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A retired Maine primary care doctor wrote:

1. What have you been told about when you’ll get the vaccine?

“I’ve been told nothing. Our Maine state guidelines put me in the second tier based on age (73). The first tier are the front line workers. My wife and I can continue to stay at home and I’d be willing to give teachers my place in line.”

2. Who’s the honcho on this where you are? We would like to get in touch with people on the front line to aid in our reporting. If you can give a name, we can reach out and see if they will talk.

“Dr. Nirav Shah at the Maine CDC. He is truly awesome. Check out his CV and be prepared to be blown away. Busy, of course, but has been tremendous both in terms of competence and communication.”

3. Do you have any knowledge of or links to the state vaccination protocol?

“Not at hand, but I will look and send you anything I find.”

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A family doctor in Grinnell, Iowa, wrote:

“Poweshiek county health dept. just e-mailed me that healthcare workers in Grinnell, whether the hospital or private offices will not get Pfizer because of the logistics of keeping it cold. Long term care will get it directly from pharmacies. We healthcare workers (and staff) will get the Moderna vaccine, as soon as it get approved. As soon as the week of the 21st. They’ll come to our office and immunize everyone who wishes. Pfizer should be rolling in soon. We are very relieved to be getting this so soon!”

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An emergency room doctor in Houston wrote: “I’m expecting to get the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in 1 month. My program says they’d provide it to us then, but they also told us that if we can find a way to get a vaccine quicker at one of the area hospitals we should go for that. People have been putting random sentences in emails like ‘we’re working on getting the vaccine’ so it seems like a lot of systems are being set up behind the scene. It doesn’t seem particularly organized and there may be some overlap/supply shortage in the future, but welcome to America. I think I should be fully vaccinated by the spring.”

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A microbiology supervisor in Maryland wrote: ‘Management has informed us that lab personnel testing the COVID-19 samples are Tier 3, not a priority, so, there’s that!”

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“My daughter -in leukemia research at Dana Farber in Boston gets a vaccine this Saturday!!”

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A public health worker in Nova Scotia, Canada, wrote: “We’re getting our first shipment next week as well. Front line workers will be vaccinated first, then residents and staff of long-term care facilities, then the general population starting with folks over 80, then over 75, etc.”

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In the United Kingdom, you should wait until the National Health Service calls you. Here’s a tweet.

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...