The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Boston is not going well

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Doctors and nurses at some of the best hospitals in the country say that the people who are most exposed to patients with COVID are not always the people who get the vaccine first. As reported by Gabrielle Emanuel of GBH in Boston, some people say the distribution was free for everyone.

GABRIELLE EMANUEL, BYLINE: Jennifer DeVincent has been a nurse at Mass General Brigham Hospital System for 16 years. This year was stressful on her neonatal intensive care because some mothers had a positive test for COVID, so she was thrilled with the arrival of the vaccine. But last week, the scheduling system crashed – too many users. When it was worse again, DeVincent was busy with the patient.

JENNIFER DEVINCENT: I ​​remember sitting there in a seesaw and feeding the baby while listening to the sisters talk outside the room in the hallway.

EMANUEL: There was a crowd when they realized that in a few minutes all the meetings were gone. Many night shift workers woke up and learned that they had overslept the announcement of the new system and registration windows.

DEVINCENT: It turned out to be a bit free for everyone. And, you know, those who work the hardest have a hard time meeting because you can’t always sign up right at that moment.

EMANUEL: DeVincent, who is still unvaccinated, says her frustration turned to anger when she realized exactly who she was going to shoot. Some were managers, coordinators, people who did not provide practical patient care. General General Brigham uses a system of codes of honor. Employees should self-politicize and not skip ahead.

DEVINCENT: It definitely feels a bit like a slap to me.

PAUL BIDDINGER: It absolutely created madness, which is the opposite of what we wanted to do with this system. And that’s something we’re working very hard on right now.

EMANUEL: Paul Biddinger oversees the introduction of the vaccine at Mass General Brigham. He says they did not manage expectations well given the limited number of vaccines. But he says the use of the code of honor is necessary with a staff of more than 80,000.

BIDDINGER: It’s actually relatively complex to figure out who works where. We have staff moving among our hospitals and working in different roles in different hospitals.

EMANUEL: He has reviewed the data and says it is relatively rare for people to jump the line and there is usually a misunderstanding. He says they are working on much clearer guidelines and problem solving in the application.

Although the introduction of the vaccine is going smoothly in many hospitals, the problems at Mass General Brigham are not unique. Similar challenges have emerged in places like NewYork-Presbyterian and Stanford Medicine.

JULIE SWANN: I think these are initial stumbles.

EMANUEL: Julie Swann is a supply chain expert who has advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the distribution of the H1N1 vaccine. He bet things would get a lot smoother quickly as supply increased. But she says there are techniques to ensure that the right people are vaccinated.

SWANN: One way is to first send information to only the smallest group that qualifies for the vaccine and register it first.

EMANUEL: Swann says the test of whether hospitals can do better in the coming weeks is because they receive and distribute many more doses of vaccines.

For NPR News, I am Gabrielle Emanuel.

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