Survey: Few primary care practices prepared to distribute COVID-19 vaccines
Few primary care practices have a plan in place to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, according to a recent survey of primary care clinicians.
Ann Greiner, president and CEO of the Primary Care Collaborative (PCC), told Healio Primary Care that the initial strategy of deploying the vaccines to hospitals to allow them to vaccinate their workforce was relatively easy, but vaccinating people in nursing homes and the general public will be more difficult. Primary care practices will have a crucial role in facilitating vaccination.
“Primary care has the largest proportion of patient visits in a year. They have relationships with patients, and that’s going to be important to answer patient questions about the vaccine, assure patients that it’s safe, and research shows that one-on-one conversations are best able to address vaccine hesitancy,” Greiner said.
She added that these relationships include those with patients in vulnerable and marginalized communities that have been shown to have higher rates of COVID-19 cases and mortality, emphasizing that “it’s very important to get vaccines to those communities, and primary care is a key strategy for doing that.”
The survey, which was conducted by the Larry A. Green Center in collaboration with the Primary Care Collaborative and 3rd Conversation, included 1,485 primary care clinicians from all 50 states.
Among surveyed clinicians, just 5% reported that their practice has a full COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
Additionally, just 34% of clinicians reported that their practice has enough staff to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, and one in five practices said that they cannot pay for the vaccine or the storage required for it.
The surveyed also found that just 23% of clinicians knew where they will be getting COVID-19 vaccines from, and 20% knew how to store the vaccine once they receive it.
Of primary care clinicians, 89% reported that they will take the vaccine themselves and 90% reported that they are recommending the vaccine to patients.
The survey also found that patients have expressed hesitancy about the vaccine, with 87% of clinicians reporting that their patients were concerned that there may be unknown adverse events from the vaccine and 76% reporting that they had patients concerned that the vaccine development was too fast to be safe.
The survey also revealed that patient needs have increased, with 62% of clinicians reporting that patients’ needs have become more complex and 46% reporting that visits are longer. Additionally, 52% reported that they observed an increase in patients with housing, food or insurance fragility, and 44% observed in increase in patients who struggled to afford or pick up their medications.
Among respondents, 91% reported that their practice had some form of staff shortage, 61% reported that their practice stress was severe or near severe, and 41% reported that their practice had staff positions they could not fill.
“We’ve got staffing issues, we’ve got people out sick, we’ve got another surge. We can’t leave primary care kind of isolated in trying to deal with all of these issues,” Greiner said. “Primary care needs the state, public health and private plans working with them and together — for the benefit of patients and the health of our country — to get COVID-19 vaccines better distributed.”
- Primary Care & COVID-19: Round 24 Survey.
- PCPCC. Quick COVID-19 Primary Care Survey. https://www.pcpcc.org/sites/default/files/news_files/C19%20Series%2024%20National%20Executive%20Summary.pdf. Accessed January 8, 2021.
- PCPCC. Primary Care is Key to COVID-19 Vaccine Dissemination but is Left Out So Far. https://www.pcpcc.org/2021/01/07/primary-care-key-covid-19-vaccine-dissemination-left-out-so-far. Accessed January 8, 2021.