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Sermo physicians say patients are using connections to skip the vaccine line

Since the first covid-19 vaccines began rolling out, there have been examples and anecdotal evidence that some people are skipping the line—spotlighting health inequities and ethical concerns. 

According to NPR, “A national health care provider has administered COVID-19 vaccinations to people deemed ineligible for the scarce vaccine by local health departments, including people with connections to company leaders and customers of its concierge medical service, according to internal communications leaked to NPR.

San Francisco-based One Medical has been allocated thousands of vaccine doses by local health departments in some of the areas they provide medical services. Ineligible individuals with connections to company leadership were set up with vaccine appointments, and patients who were disqualified from receiving the vaccine were nonetheless permitted to skip the line ahead of other high-risk patients…”

In response to this news, 69% of global Sermo physicians said they have been aware that some patients and providers are using personal connections to facilitate vaccine line skipping. And 47% of doctors have personally had patients ask if they can skip the vaccine line. 

When asked if they feel there is a bigger issue here involving health inequity and medical ethics—in which people of affluence can pay for better/faster medical care—81% answered yes. Overall, 60% of physicians feel there has been an issue with the organization of the covid-19 vaccine rollout program in their area. And 44% believe that some of the issues occurring could be attributed to “the fog of war,” which is what the chief medical officer of One Medical said was behind the line skipping of ineligible patients. 

Here is more of what Sermo physicians have to say on this topic:

Unfortunately, these instances are NOT unique to this organization. I have no problem with the odd vaccination to technically ineligible folks to avoid waisting vaccine (e.g. at the end of a long day when eligible folks did not show up as scheduled). Wasting precious vaccine should be avoided at all costs. OTOH-Deliberately dosing folks of privilege (e.g. economic or by non-patient-contact employment by a certain health system) should be prosecuted.

Anesthesiology

Health care to high bidder is one of the malignant aspects of our healthy (sic) system. Easy to see that there are ethical issues with some of the more entrepreneurial delivery models. So this behavior is far from surprising.

Family Medicine / Practice (FP)

Approaching the population in my country was very imposing in the sense of instilling panic both by the press and by the state government agencies and by the spoken and written press. Despite the efforts of frontline vaccination staff, planning has been difficult and many people have not vaccinated yet!

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery