Many out-patient healthcare workers grow frustrated over lack of access to COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 4:18 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 16:18:33-05

“I think they have priorities, and we’re not one of them,” said DENT Neurological Institute’s Medical Director, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler.

Mechtler is waiting on word from the state for when his medical staff will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I know it’s a difficult situation and everyone’s trying to do their best. But, I think we should be on the map. We meaning those who work in out patient scenarios.”

DENT healthcare workers aren’t considered front line workers. So, they’re not eligible for the first vaccine doses from the state. Mechtler said it sees roughly 1,000 patients a day, many of whom rely on in-person healthcare for treatment. He believes both his and all out-patient healthcare workers are being overlooked. “I do feel we offer a very important service to the medical community, and that should be respected.”

Dr. Kerry Fierstein is a pediatrician and the CEO of Allied Physicians Group downstate. She feels like there’s a lack of communication from the state.

“The vaccination is a scarce resource but information shouldn’t be. We don’t want to be ahead of the front line workers in the hospitals. But, we want to know that we’re on the list,” she said.

The latest guidance from the New York State Department of Health shows out-patient healthcare workers should be eligible for the vaccine on January 4. But, it doesn’t detail how they’ll be handled. Instead it’s listed as T.B.D. (or to be determined.) That’s different from most other categories on the state’s list where it has identified who is responsible for administering the shot, including coroners and funeral workers.

A Change.org petition requesting the same access for all healthcare workers has already collected thousands of signatures.

The state didn’t immediately return our requests for information.