Health expert believes nationwide vaccine rollout needs different approach

Health expert believes nationwide vaccine rollout needs different approach

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - COVID-19 vaccinations are not happening as quickly as many have hoped. A health expert gives his opinion about what he thinks will speed up the process.

Dr. Cecil Bennet is a board-certified family physician in Atlanta, Georgia.

“In my opinion, there should be a different approach than what’s being used right now,” he said about the current vaccine rollout nationwide.

He states that primary care physicians have been left out of the loop when it comes to administering the vaccine.

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“We’re not a part of the plan. We’re not a part of the process,” he said. “And I’ve listened to the current administration and I’ve listened very carefully to what the plan is for the incoming administration and at no point do I see any involvement of primary care physicians as a primary tool for the rollout.”

Bennett suggests governors call their state’s Academy of Family Physicians.

“Just making that call alone can give them access to thousands of providers that can help with this distribution process,” he said.

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Bennet explained that there are more than 300,000 primary care physicians across the country. He says including them in the vaccine administration process could mean that each provider would be able to vaccinate as many as 1,000 patients each in 2.5 months

It could also be more cost-effective.

“No additional billion-dollar funding. No training another 10,000 individuals. No setting up tents in parking lots. No people waiting hours upon hours hoping that they’re going to get vaccinated,” said Bennett.

If the nation continues at the current pace nationwide, Bennet says it could take years to reach herd immunity.

“Two to three years at best,” he stated.

Over 1 million vaccine doses needed to reach herd immunity in Shelby County

He says we as a country do not have that kind of time. He also advised that people should not hold off on taking the vaccine when it is their turn.

“It’s very dangerous especially in light of this variant that’s appearing around the world,” he said.

A new major variant of the virus has appeared in South Africa. Health experts do not yet know how effective current vaccines are against the variant.

WMC reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health about if primary care physicians will be utilized to administer vaccines in Tennessee. The TDH sent the following statement:

While we are onboarding primary care physicians to be able to receive vaccine eventually, the State’s ability to distribute the vaccine to these providers is dependent on adequate vaccine supply being provided by the federal government. It is not expected that the supply will increase to the point of being able to provide vaccines to individual medical practices until either additional vaccines receive FDA emergency use authorization or production is increased significantly.

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