“Vaccinate All Medical Staff,” Medicine Tells Hospitals
By David Doolittle

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Theresa Phan, MD, a primary care sports medicine resident, receives her COVID-19 vaccine at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital.

As more COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to facilities across the state, the Texas Medical Association is dedicated to working so that all Texas physicians receive doses to protect themselves and their patients.

In a joint statement with the Texas Hospital Association (THA) delivered today, TMA calls for all physicians, medical students, and residents to be included in the priority group for vaccines at this time.

“THA and TMA have received concerns about medical staff not being prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination in hospitals because they are not technically hospital employees,” the statement says. “THA and TMA urge hospitals to vaccinate all medical staff on the frontlines regardless of their employment status. This includes residents, medical students, independent physicians, and community physicians.”

The statement comes as more than 600,000 more vaccines are being delivered to 1,100 health care facilities in 185 counties starting today, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) said.

This week’s allocation, which includes doses manufactured by Moderna, is part of the state’s overall distribution strategy that prioritizes essential health care workers and vulnerable populations.

More than 200,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine were delivered to 110 hospitals across the state last week, the first shipment of the long-awaited vaccine.

It is still unclear when vaccines will be made available to all physicians and practice staff throughout the state. TMA has heard from physicians statewide asking how they and their practice staff can receive vaccines.

“We encourage physicians to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine at their local hospitals and pharmacies,” said TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD. “TMA is encouraging local county medical societies to help organize access to the vaccine to ensure the safety of those on the frontlines. We appreciate THA’s help in disseminating this important message to hospitals across Texas.”

Contact your county medical society for more information about vaccine availability in your area.

Texas grocery store chain H-E-B will administer the vaccine to select local health care professionals as part of a contract with DSHS. 

Health care facilities with groups smaller than 30 should contact their local H-E-B pharmacy to schedule an appointment, H-E-B said on its website. The pharmacies will not accept walk-ins. 

Although details are still being finalized, DSHS also is working with other large pharmacies, clinics, and health care facilities to provide vaccines to both priority groups in other areas of the state.

The state allocation plan was recommended by an Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel, which is made up of physicians, health experts, lawmakers, and DSHS officials and is in line with the panel’s guiding principles and health care workers definition.

TMA has been involved in the planning discussions and has been advocating for all Texas physicians and their staff to be vaccinated and able to administer the vaccine quickly.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for Moderna’s vaccine – a two-dose series for individuals 18 and older.

“It will begin shipping over the weekend and start arriving in Texas on Monday at providers like hospitals, freestanding ERs, EMS providers, pharmacies, local health departments, health centers and other clinics,” DSHS said Friday before the EUA was issued.

Most of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be allocated in Texas this week, 124,800 doses, will go to CVS, Walgreens, and other pharmacies as part of a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination services for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, DSHS said.

In order to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, qualified physicians and practices first must register with DSHS’ Immunization Program Portal as well as in ImmTrac2, the state’s vaccine registry.

If you have questions, contact DSHS’ COVID-19 Vaccine Provider hotline, which is available from 8 am to 5 pm (CT) Monday through Friday, at (877) 835-7750 or via email.

You are also encouraged to contact the TMA Knowledge Center with any questions or concerns at (800) 880-7955 or via email.

As always, you can find more information on the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center, which is continually updated with news, information, tools, and more.

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David Fleeger, MD, TMA immediate past president and chair of the Texas Health Care Industry Strike Force on COVID-19, receives a vaccine.

Last Updated On

December 22, 2020

Originally Published On

December 21, 2020

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David Doolittle

Editor

(512) 370-1385

Dave Doolittle is editor of Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. Dave grew up in Austin, where he attended culinary school as well as the University of Texas. He spent years covering Central Texas for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. He is the father of two girls, a proud Longhorn, and an avid motorsports fan.

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