New Vaccination Policy Update
By Lisa Larkin, MD, FACP, NCMP, IF
In early August, when I saw the dramatic rise in COVID cases in my practice and in our city, and as I watched COVID hospitalizations and covid deaths in our region skyrocket, I made the decision to implement a new COVID policy in my practice. This policy was designed to protect my patients- many who are elderly, immune-compromised, transplant patients, and cancer patients on active treatment- to the best of my ability from contracting COVID in my office. My patients expect and I strive to ensure the safest possible environment for my patients when they visit the office.
Prior to implementing the new policy that requires proof of vaccination, or for those unvaccinated individuals, a rapid COVID test on arrival to the office, or a telehealth appointment instead of an in-person visit, I sent a letter to all of my patients informing them of the new policy and posted the policy on my website. This week Larry Seward interviewed me about the practice policy and a story ran on WCPO Channel 9.
I have been thrilled with and profoundly encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response to the implementation of our practice policy and the television piece this week. The overwhelming majority of patients are grateful for the policy. We have received phone calls, emails, and texts from patients thanking us. The policy also led to several unvaccinated individuals getting vaccinated. What I did not expect was a large number of phone calls and emails from patients NOT part of the practice we received after the TV piece aired expressing their appreciation for our policy. Yes, a very small number of patients were upset by the policy and have left the practice (under 5 people), but more patients joined the practice than left, and 99.99 percent of feedback we have received has been positive.
My hope is that in the coming weeks and months, as vaccine safety and effectiveness data continues to emerge, employers mandate vaccination for employment, and as employers increase healthcare insurance premiums for individuals who remain unvaccinated, those who are unvaccinated will choose to be vaccinated. The science is clear. Vaccination is safe and effective, and vaccination of our population to herd immunity is the way out of this pandemic.
I encourage everyone who is not vaccinated to get vaccinated. Please. This is a public health crisis with short-term and long-term implications for individuals and for our country. Vaccination is not political. It is the best solution to this public health crisis- a crisis that has and will continue to impact us all.