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Improving vaccination access for health care workers

Dermatologists deploy COVID-19 vaccines to school nurses and other health care professionals in Illinois and Massachusetts.

Drs. Derick and Kuchnir's story

Following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, dermatologists helped quickly distribute them to frontline health care workers who did not have a connection to a hospital or large health system.

Dr. Amy Derick—Illinois

Amy J. Derick, MD, FAAD
Amy J. Derick, MD, FAAD
Once COVID-19 vaccines were authorized, it was imperative for our care team to get vaccinated as soon as possible to reduce potential risks to our patients—many of whom are older, and some who must remove their masks for skin cancer checks and other diagnoses or treatments.

When researching how to sign up for vaccines, I learned how challenging it was for health care workers who didn’t work in a large health system or hospital setting to access vaccines, despite having significant exposure to patients. My colleagues in other specialties confirmed this was a common problem.

I knew that my professional relationships across the state could solve this broader need. I met with the leaders of a nearby health system to alert them of the issue and find a solution: a vaccine clinic. Together, we collaborated to vaccinate more than 1,500 health care professionals working in primary care and specialties like orthopedics and ophthalmology in just a month. These providers can now provide safer care for their patients and community—and lead by example in getting vaccinated.

Dr. Louis Kuchnir—Massachusetts

Louis Kuchnir, MD, FAAD
Louis Kuchnir, MD, FAAD
When the vaccines became available, I applied for enough doses to help protect my dermatology clinic staff. After receiving the shipment, I quickly realized that we were sent many more shots than we needed. At the time, the state mandated that all vaccines go to public health professionals or emergency responders. I reached out to the local police department, which assured me it had enough doses, but heard school nurses were having trouble accessing the vaccine.

I contacted the superintendents of eight local school districts and found they desperately wanted and needed their school nurses to be vaccinated. Upon learning this, I immediately set up a vaccination site at my dermatology office and offered dozens of school nurses access to my surplus of doses. It was incredibly special to assist in making schools safer for both staff and students, and showcase how dermatologists in a small community can be a resource for others.

The school nurses's perspective

Julia McCoskery, RN, School Nurse, Westborough Public Schools

“School nurses found it difficult to receive the COVID-19 vaccines needed to do our critical work safely. I am grateful for health care providers like dermatologist Dr. Louis Kuchnir for donating their time, clinics, and extra vaccines to ensure school nurses can continue keeping students, teachers, administrators, and the entire community healthy.”

─ Julia McCoskery, RN, School Nurse, Westborough Public Schools

The orthopaedic surgeon’s perspective

Benjamin Domb, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon

“My health care team and I had trouble getting our first COVID-19 vaccine doses because we didn’t work in a hospital setting or for a large system. I’m grateful to dermatologist Dr. Amy Derick who realized not all health care providers could access the vaccine and quickly launched a vaccine clinic to fill that void. Thanks to Dr. Derick, we’re now able to care for our patients more safely after getting vaccinated.”

─ Benjamin Domb, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon

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