BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some doctors will be able to vaccinate their patients, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. He said this is the first time the state will give COVID-19 allocations directly to doctors.
“You should contact your doctor, contact your pharmacy, find out what if anything they’re receiving and try to get on their list, and as always eligibility does not mean availability,” Poloncarz said.
Dr. Raul Vazquez with Urban Family Practice said he's requested a COVID-19 vaccine allocation since December. He said the practice will receive 200 Moderna doses from the state. His office is calling the most at risk patients on its wait list, and can provide transportation if needed.
“I think it won’t be as complicated for the patient because it’s a place they know,” Vazquez said.
In addition to logistics like already having patient information in their system, Vazquez said there's also an existing level of trust.
“You’re gonna have a lot of patients that may come in and say 'well doc I don’t know if I want that shot,' but then you can explain it to them with better health literacy, and a lot of them because you’ve been taking care of them for 20-25 years are always 'ok alright I’ll do it', Vazquez said.”
Internal and geriatric medicine doctor Dr. Thomas James Madejski has been vaccinating patients for nearly a month. He said he's received about 400 doses so from the Orleans County Health Department. He has not received any allocations from the state.
He said about 20% of his patients were hesitant at first.
“If you engage patients in a respectful way, you can have a discussion, and I have about an 80 to 90% closure rate on patients who initially weren’t gonna get it who eventually get it,” Madejski said.
He said most of his patients are eligible for the vaccine under comorbidities.
Madejski said all doctors offices should have access to the vaccine.
Madejski said based off the numbers he's heard from the Medical Society of the State of New York, many primary care doctors do not have the vaccine currently.
7 Eyewitness News asked him how likely it would be for someone to get the vaccine from their primary care doctor if they were to call at this time.
"So right now it’s probably still gonna be a no answer because there’s 2,000, approximately, practices that have requested vaccine, and 190 got it," Madejski said. "And I think they picked some of the larger practices because of larger volumes, in an attempt to get it to as many people as quickly as possible.”
Vazquez hopes weekly allocations will increase, he initially requested 500 doses. He said many of his 15,000 patients are minorities and have comorbidities.
"It's nice to finally open the floodgates and be able to take care of them because you know they've trusted me and they've always come to me for a long time," Vazquez said.