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First in the Room, Back of the Line

Despite seeing every patient, residents and fellows are being overlooked by COVID-19 vaccine plans.

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out, resident physicians and fellows are in danger of being forgotten. This is most egregious at Stanford, where in the first batch of 5,000 vaccines, only seven of them went to residents or fellows. In developing their complicated rollout plans and algorithms, administrators failed to consider the doctors who are personally seeing every patient, instead prioritizing administrators and attending physicians who have been working from home. While Stanford has made an official apology, apologies are meaningless without action to rectify the situation.

“Residents are patient-facing, we’re the ones who have been asked to intubate, yet some attendings who have been face-timing us from home are being vaccinated before us. This is the final straw to say, ‘We don’t actually care about you.’

Dr. Sarah Johnson, Stanford OB/GYN resident. Via ProPublica.
Image via personal communication.

Situations like this one emphasize the need for physicians in residency and fellowship training programs across the country to look out for each other. An algorithm like Stanford’s had to be reviewed by multiple people, including at the output stage before vaccinating a single person, and those people saw no problem with it. It is only now that the physicians are protesting that they are taking notice.

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