Even a doctor worries about when and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Frontline medical workers are at the top of the priority list, but what if their job isn’t providing a vaccine?

Pediatricians and other health care staffers will soon sign up to get vaccinated.
Pediatricians and other health care staffers will soon sign up to get vaccinated.

SAN ANTONIO – COVID-19 vaccines have arrived in San Antonio, but even a frontline medical worker can feel anxious about when and how she’ll get one.

Dr. Jeanne Lovett, a North Side pediatrician with a private practice, found herself worried last week after the route she had planned on appeared to fall through.

RELATED: San Antonio, surrounding areas are getting thousands of COVID-19 vaccines this week. Here’s where they’re going.

Lovett, an affiliate provider through North Central Baptist Hospital, had been getting texts from the Baptist Health System about vaccinations. So Lovett believed she -- and hopefully her staff -- would end up getting vaccinated through Baptist.

As they typically test about five to 10 patients a day for COVID-19, Lovett has been looking forward to it.

“Just knowing that I have a family at home -- I live in the same household as my 77-year-old mom and had been very excited to get the vaccine,” she told KSAT.

As they work directly with symptomatic patients in an outpatient setting, Lovett and her staff fall among some of the highest priority groups to be vaccinated -- the second tier of the first phase. The group also includes people like urgent care clinic staff, school nurses, and funeral home staff who provide services to people who died of COVID-19.

The first tier includes hospital staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients or those who are at high risk for the disease, nursing home staff and residents, and EMS providers.

The different tiers are meant to help providers plan their vaccination efforts, but both groups are eligible to be vaccinated, said Texas Department of State Health Services spokesman Chris Van Deusen.

But when Lovett reached out to Baptist Health System on Friday, she said she was told that affiliates like her were not being offered the vaccine at that point. Furthermore, she said Baptist indicated that her staff might not get a vaccine through the health system at all. That especially worried Lovett.

“They see patients. They’re the ones doing the tests. They’re in the room often as much as I am in the room, and I really want a path that they can get the vaccine so that they’re not put in harm’s way,” Lovett said.

The first week’s allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine focused on large hospitals who planned to distribute at least 975 doses due to the large, minimum order required for the Pfizer vaccine. However, the Moderna vaccine used in the second week’s vaccine allocations can be shipped in batches as small as 100 and doesn’t require the same subzero temperatures to store.

As such, it’s being shipped to a wider variety of vaccine distributors, including more than 40 H-E-B Pharmacies in Bexar County alone. The grocery store chain says health care workers will be able to schedule vaccinations through its pharmacies. 

A Baptist Health System emailed KSAT the following statement after we contacted them about Lovett’s situation:

“With this first shipment of vaccine, we have been vaccinating eligible members of our staff and physicians in accordance with FDA, CDC, state, and local guidelines. These have primarily been focused on hospital based staff, physicians and providers with direct inpatient activity at the highest risk of exposure. We continue to assess our internal capacity and the guidelines and directives of STRAC, the state and other public health entities regarding expansion of allocation to affiliate physicians.”

At about that same time Monday afternoon, Lovett said she received a link from Baptist allowing her to sign up for a vaccine. She plans to get her staff vaccinated through H-E-B.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.