PEOPLE, PAY ATTENTION: We are in peak Covid-19 spread right now. Our small practice suffered 14 infections in the past 6 weeks alone, about 3% of our members. Affected family who were not our direct patients increase that number to about 22. That is awful. Several have been quite sick. We have been trying unsuccessfully to date to get antibody infusions for new cases, though may finally have succeeded in that with a couple we diagnosed two days ago. The benefit is uncertain. We still have no other outpatient medication for the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
People are being careless
The common infection theme is that people are not being rigorous in their self-care and protection. It is work-related exposure from office settings, or family-related when someone visits the sister’s family at their home where the son was seeing some other friends and so forth. There is so much asymptomatic disease around that you can’t effectively verbally screen to protect yourself. Even rapid tests at our office (or PCR tests for that matter) just improve the odds of being safe; they are not assurance of safety.
The peak risk of this pandemic will be continuing through March, maybe April. And you still will need to wear masks and social distance for months after you get your immunization at least through the second quarter and more likely through the fall. Detailed guidance will evolve, but we have a long way to go.
We are prepared, but need the vaccine to give you
Orchard Health Care has been ready since December to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to all of our patients. We are approved by DPH for this purpose. But we as of today still have no date certain for receiving the vaccine, no do we know which one (though likely Moderna), nor how many doses.
Everyone is on our list, in priority
We have listed everyone in our practice on our Covid-19 vaccine lists. We have noted everyone’s additional risks from “comorbidities” such as diabetes, or hypertension, or immunosuppression of any sort. The first distribution wave should be everyone over 75, everyone over 65, and everyone with at least two comorbidities regardless of age. We hope, but do not know, that we will have supplies from DPH to vaccinate these members starting by second week in February.
We will let everyone know by email and by blog post. We’ll have a website signup again, as we did for flu vaccines, which worked well. We expect to devote sequential days to vaccination to get any group done quickly. We can safely do 70-80 people daily, so it will go very quickly, within a few days. We’ll also call older folks who may not be so computer-savvy to get them on the schedule.
So fear not. You’ll know as soon as we get word about vaccine supply.
Alternate sources of vaccine
Many of you have had outreach from your towns about their town distribution system. I don’t believe the towns will get it sooner than medical practices who are skilled in giving immunizations to known patients. But who knows? We have no problem if you sign up with your town as well. Do let us know if you get a first dose of either vaccine elsewhere.
Finally, the lack of vaccine distribution to us and the lack of clear mention of medical practices as a central part of any vaccine distribution system is of great concern to us, and really frustrating. I just emailed to our State House representatives (Rep. Thomas Stanley and Sen. Mike Barrett) and congresswoman Katherine Clark to voice my concern about the slow provision of vaccine to medical practices and almost complete lack of mention of medical practices as being part of the distribution plan for the vaccine, including in a Page 1 Boston Globe article today. The email is available here. If you agree, you can jingle their chain as well.