As was noted in this communication from November 2020, AOPA successfully convinced the CDC to add orthotists and prosthetists to its list of frontline workers who should be first in line for the vaccine, however, the CDC guidelines only serve as suggestions for the states – each state develops their own guidelines. Some states’ guidelines are very specific, while others are more ambiguous with respect to where O&P clinicians fall on the list of healthcare providers eligible for vaccines.
To be more specific, O&P clinicians, as essential, frontline healthcare workers, are eligible to receive vaccines during phase 1 in every state, though the group (1a, 1b, 1c, etc.) may differ from state to state, or even by county.
According to Sheryl Sachs, in Maryland, vaccinations are being handled slightly differently by each county, and the county health departments have measures in place to coordinate the rollout. “Each county has a different website for their health department and form for companies to complete, requesting vaccinations for staff. They are then approved and individuals can sign up for the vaccine. The company I work for submitted the initial request, and then shared the information once they receive approval,” said Sachs.
AOPA suggests first contacting your state’s Department of Health for specific guidance. You can also reach out to the hospitals and other healthcare entities where you provide O&P services to learn about any programs they have established for contractors working in their facilities.
Brock Berta, who is coordinating vaccinations for employees in seven states, suggests reaching out to county health departments and medical facilities, “Do not wait to be contacted,” warned Berta.
Jeff Erenstone made this recommendation regarding what to include when you reach out to these entities, “In short I gave some background about our field and explained that we regularly worked with immunocompromised patients. I explained that we are a small field and likely to slip through the crack. Most importantly, I expressed appreciation for their tireless work that they have been doing and made a point to say ‘Thank You’.”
AOPA is continuing to monitor this issue and will provide updates, resources, and member feedback associated with the vaccine rollout on My O&P Community. We encourage you to share any experiences or advice here as well.