Maryland’s family physicians have been pushing the state health department to be included in the COVID-19 vaccine program, arguing for weeks that they could help with efforts to reach underserved communities.
Gene M. Ransom III, CEO of MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, made the case formally in a Feb. 23 letter to acting Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader.
In it, he said there are more than 350 physician practices that have been approved for vaccine distribution through the state’s IMMUNET system.
“Maryland physicians are ready and willing to help with this effort,” Ransom wrote.
The letter was obtained by Maryland Matters on Wednesday.
Ransom told Schrader that the “trusted physician-patient relationship” would boost confidence in the vaccine and be another way to reach demographic groups — racial minorities, in particular — whose participation in the vaccine program has lagged.
“Physicians will be able to help get underserved and traditionally disadvantaged groups of patients vaccinated,” he wrote.
It would also help get more doses into the arms of older patients and those with a history of illness, issues that “may be missed by our pharmacist colleagues.”
Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), said on Wednesday “it’s an idea under consideration as we await additional supply.”
Ransom said the lack of equity is a “grave concern” to the state’s doctors, “and we have raised the issue as early as December.”
With flu vaccines mostly distributed, Ransom added, physicians’ offices and clinics have the refrigerator space necessary to keep the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at the proper temperature.