Survey shows more primary care practices are administering COVID-19 vaccines
In a recent survey, more than one-third of primary care clinicians said their practice was providing COVID-19 vaccines to patients.
However, as the number of primary care practices administering COVID-19 vaccines rises, so do levels of burnout and workloads, according to the survey, which was conducted through a collaboration between the Primary Care Collaborative, Larry A. Green Center and 3rd Conversation.
“Primary care is now a key means for getting shots in Americans’ arms, just as practices are facing pent-up patient demand for care and worsening mental health and social vulnerabilities,” Ann Greiner, president and CEO of the Primary Care Collaborative, said in a press release.
Overall, 657 clinicians across 48 states, Washington D.C. and Guam responded to the survey. Among them, 38% reported that their practice is administering COVID-19 vaccines, 42% reported partnering with public health organizations and 46% reported partnering with local organizations or government officials to prioritize people for vaccination, representing an improvement from earlier surveys. Nonetheless, only 19% of respondents indicated that their practice received enough vaccines for their patients and 23% said they had “no idea” whether their patients were vaccinated, according to the Primary Care Collaborative.
Furthermore, the survey revealed that the pandemic is taking a toll on clinicians’ mental health.
“Primary care never hit the pause button. Without funding and without inclusion in pandemic-relief planning, primary care has extended hours and services, deferred salaries and waived co-pays in order to meet the health needs of the population, and yet we have failed to have its back,” Rebecca Etz, PhD, codirector of the Larry A. Green Center, said in the press release. “How much data must we collect on its vulnerabilities, and how long before policymakers provide them with the support they’ve earned and deserve?”
The survey data showed that 71% of clinicians reported their burnout or mental exhaustion levels reached “all-time highs,” and 40% reported similar levels of burnout in their practices.
In addition, two in five clinicians said they required mental health support as a result of the pandemic, but these numbers are “likely underreported,” according to an executive summary of the data. Among nearly 40% who reported the same level of COVID-19 strain on their practices as in May 2020, just over half said they have adjusted to the strain, while 37% reported it is getting better and 5% reported that it is getting worse and they are “really struggling.”
The strain comes along with a more than 200% increase in health screenings vs. May 2020, exacerbated in 27% of practices that reported being unable to fill clinician positions and 29% of practices that have been understaffed due to illness or quarantine, according to the data.
“Public and private payers should continue providing relief from administrative burdens enacted under the public health emergency and dramatically increase fiscal relief for primary care,” Greiner said in the release. “Strengthening primary care will pay dividends: getting the country more quickly to herd immunity and a return to some sense of normalcy.”
- Primary Care Collaborative. Primary care administering more vaccines as mass immunizations accelerate. https://www.pcpcc.org/2021/04/22/primary-care-administering-more-vaccines-mass-immunizations-accelerate. Accessed April 22, 2021.
- Primary Care Collaborative. Primary care & COVID-19: Round 28 survey. https://www.pcpcc.org/2021/04/20/primary-care-covid-19-round-28-survey. Accessed April 22, 2021.
- Primary Care Collaborative. Quick COVID-19 primary care survey. https://www.pcpcc.org/sites/default/files/news_files/C19%20Series%2028%20National%20Executive%20Summary.pdf. Accessed April 22, 2021.