NCAFP President Dr. Jessica Triche wrote Governor Roy Cooper, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger last week noting that family physicians stand ready to help distribute the COVID-19 Vaccine and should be provided clinical discretion regarding when their very high-risk patients receive the vaccine. In the letter, Dr. Triche stated: "Failure to meaningfully incorporate family physicians into distribution and education efforts will ultimately jeopardize the long-term success of the state’s vaccination strategies." She also noted that "our members understand what patients are at most risk for COVID. They understand the clinical and socio-economic factors that place specific patients at greater risk for acquiring COVID and experiencing worse outcomes. We hope the state will provide some clinical discretion to ensure that non-elderly high-risk patients can receive the vaccine in a timely manner."
The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians continues to take steps to advocate for our state's family physicians. Initially, we advocated to include family physicians as high-risk healthcare professionals so you could receive your vaccine as quickly as possible. Now, we have turned our advocacy to trying to get more vaccines into your hands to give to your patients.
Family physicians in Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers now have access to COVID-19 vaccines for their patients and their communities. In addition, a few private practices have been piloting providing vaccines to their patients. The state is continuing to onboard more primary care practices into their COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS). The first step to eventually receiving vaccines to distribute in your practice is onboarding into CVMS. As vaccine supplies become more plentiful, more primary care practices will receive allocation but you must be in CVMS first.
We continue to tell the NC Department of Health and Human Services that family medicine practices are well versed in mass vaccination clinics. Most importantly, family physicians are best equipped to deal with vaccine hesitancy, particularly in historically marginalized populations, due to the long-term trusting relationship they have with their patients. Family physicians are also well versed at “recalling” patients for needed care, a crucial function in immunizing our state's residents given that patients will need two immunizations for COVID-19.
You can download copies of our recent letters to the Governor, House Speaker and Senate Pro Tempore below:
In addition, you can download a leter we wrote to the State Health Director in December, below: