Wants Primary Care Physicians, Pediatricians, Pharmacies (PPP) to Have Immediate Access and Ability to Administer
RALEIGH – In an effort to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the state, State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, and the State Health Plan (SHP) are calling for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to provide vaccines and allow primary care physicians, pediatricians and all pharmacies to administer the shots. North Carolina has lagged the nation in administering the allotted vaccines to its population. According to a recent report, North Carolina ranks 31st in the nation in the percentage of doses given to its citizens.
“For almost a year we’ve known that there are regional and cultural differences in attitude towards vaccines, especially new ones,” said Treasurer Folwell. “We’ve always known that ground zero is elderly facilities and prisons. The administration of the rollout has not reflected the standards that North Carolinians should expect.”
The NCDHHS put in place a plan to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals first, those over 75 years old next and those over 65 are now eligible even though the 75-year-old population have not been completely vaccinated. This has caused unnecessary anxiety among the most vulnerable. NCDHHS has been slow to actually administer the shots because of its decision to allow only hospitals and health departments to get and administer the vaccines.
“We need to move the vaccines out of the expensive hospital environment. In sixty-two years, I’ve never gone to a hospital to get a vaccine,” said Treasurer Folwell. “For more than 100 years, citizens have entrusted primary care physicians, pediatricians and pharmacies to administer vaccines. People are dying; poverty and illiteracy are worsening. The State Health Plan and the Clear Pricing Project Network stand ready to help get the vaccines out to the public.”
In fact, many non-hospital and non-health care providers associated with CPP have applied to be vaccine providers but have heard little back from NCDHHS. According to media reports, Tryon Medical Partners, a large independent medical group with 90 physicians, over 125,000 patients and a member of CPP, applied to administer the vaccine the first day it was available but has received only an email from NCDHSS saying they are dealing with an “influx” of applications for the vaccine. The Charlotte-based independent practice has facilities for refrigerating 200,000 doses and has identified 10,000 patients who are 75 years or older who can take the vaccine.
“We have tens of thousands of independent physicians and other medical providers who are ready to give these vaccines today,” Treasurer Folwell said. “We need to be getting the doses to the people who want the vaccines using primary care doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists – anybody with medical expertise. If all fails, solicit the advice of the teenagers who run Chick-Fil-A. They know how to distribute product!”
Treasurer Folwell noted that many hospital workers are refusing to take the vaccine, which has caused the doses to sit unused in refrigeration units across the state or go bad. He emphasized the need to get the vaccine to people who actually want it so that we get the medical crisis behind us and start focusing on economic recovery for the state and the country.
“It’s been the forgotten man and woman that has been the most economically impacted by the pandemic,” Treasurer Folwell said. “It’s time to start opening up this economy so that people can have their jobs back, giving them hope for a better future. One of the first steps is to get the vaccine out to people that want it and do it now. It’s time to move on.”
The SHP, a division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, provides health care coverage to almost 750,000 teachers, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, active and retired state employees, and their dependents. In 2018, the SHP created the Clear Pricing Project (CPP), a group of 25,000 independent medical providers committed to clear pricing model for medical services.
Treasurer Folwell added that the governor should:
- Assume control of every existing and new vial of vaccine and know where they are going;
- give the vaccine to medical professionals who citizens have been entrusted to administer vaccines for 100 years;
- acknowledge the possible regional and cultural aversion to vaccines;
- acknowledge COVID isn’t politically correct, it’s deadly;
- inoculate where it does the most good;
- stop the press conferences where real questions are not answered, which only creates panic that covers up the fact that the rollout is a disaster;
- be willing to deliver the bad news. It is okay to treat North Carolinians like adults;
- apologize to physicians, pediatricians and pharmacists who have been discriminated against, even though they put forth effort to develop the vaccine which they can’t even get; and
- acknowledge that it’s time for big decisions where assumptions are challenged so there’s no regrets.
For more information on COVID-19 and the SHP please visit SHPNC.org