Some high-risk healthcare workers say it’s hard to find sites that will give them COVID-19 vaccine

All healthcare workers in Washington State qualify to get the vaccine under the current phase. But recommendations are one thing, reality is another. A subset of high-risk healthcare workers are finding it almost impossible to get the vaccine.

Big hospital systems across the state are the ones with a lot of the vaccines and they are working hard immunizing employees especially their frontline people. But many high-risk healthcare workers who are not affiliated directly with hospitals say they are getting the run-around, and unsure how and where to get a vaccine.

Outpatient professionals include dermatologists, dentists, physicians, and plastic surgeons.

The Washington State Medical Association represents 11,000 people and many of them are outpatient health care workers not affiliated with hospitals.

WSMA says they are hearing from many of those people about the frustrating and confusing situation.

Jeb Shepard with WSMA said he recently spoke with a local dermatologist who often treats skin cancer patients from long-term health care facilities but unable to get a shot.

"This has been a hotbed for this virus, he removes cancers from their faces so he has to ask them to remove their mask, I would argue this health care practitioner is high risk and he should be prioritized. This is a historical moment I think where we have to work together I don’t think this is a situation where folks are hoarding vaccines for themselves," Shepard said.

He said it’s a problem of supply and logistics and he says all stakeholders involved need to find a better system to streamline the process.

Shepard said hospitals are being inundated and needs the state and health departments to come up with solutions.

Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday afternoon said employers not just hospitals needed to get involved in getting their employees vaccinated.

Q13 News questioned the Washington Department of Health about the issue. In response, DOH says they now have a system in place for unaffiliated healthcare workers.

First they need to get a voucher letter from their employer verifying that they meet phase 1a eligibility. Then those people can call and get a vaccine from one of the places listed by the state.  

Hospitals and other places with available vaccines are encouraged to voluntarily join the list so high-risk health care workers have places to go. You can find more information on the vouchers on the DOH website here or here.