Some Big Apple health care workers are furious that less-at-risk hospital staffers have been cutting the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine — prompting a cut-throat battle for the life-saving shots, according to a report Friday.
Doctors and nurses at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and other medical centers are turning against each other after higher-ups failed to prioritize and regulate who gets the jabs first, sources told the New York Times.
“Clearly, we’re ready to mow each other down for it,” one doctor from Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital told the paper.
Under the hospital’s rules, the most exposed employees — such as nurses and doctors in emergency rooms — were supposed to receive the vaccination first, followed by workers in other departments.
But employees far from the front lines — including social workers and clerks working from home — allegedly slipped into vaccination rooms ahead of schedule, according to the report.
The line-skipping sparked a “free-for-all” at the hospital during the first 48 hours after the vaccine arrived, a second doctor told the paper.
“I think the sad thing is people are starting to turn against each other,” the doctor said. “Can you honestly say this clerk deserves it before I do? No, but nobody deserves it before anyone else.”
Health care workers are the first to get the preventive shots under New York state’s distribution plan. But the state left it largely up to individual infirmaries to figure out how to dole out the coveted shots internally — and the plans appear to have failed at some hospitals, according to the paper.
A week after the vaccines arrived, some nurses at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital had yet to be vaccinated while other workers received the jabs.
In one example of the tension among staffers, a nurse at the hospital confronted a social worker for allegedly jumping the line, according to the Times.
“She said, ‘We have to go to E.R. sometimes’ — but that’s not true,” the nurse said of the social worker’s response.
The failure to clearly prioritize at-risk workers infuriated some staffers — prompting an apology from the hospital, according to the paper.
“I am so disappointed and saddened that this happened,” a top executive at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Dr. Craig Albanese, wrote in an email to staff, obtained by The New York Times.
In a statement to the Times, the hospital later said, “We are following all New York State Department of Health guidelines on vaccine priority, with our initial focus on I.C.U. and E.D. staff and equitable access for all.”
Meanwhile, at Mount Sinai Hospital, a doctor said workers could talk their way into getting a vaccine simply by standing in line and claiming to do “Covid-related procedures,” according to the paper.
“We feel disrespected and underappreciated due to our second-tier priority for vaccination,” a group of anesthesiologists at the hospital fumed to administrators over the weekend, the paper reported.
In a statement, officials at the hospital said they were aware of only a few vaccine-related “improprieties.”
Meanwhile, workers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center were also frustrated about a long wait for the vaccine.
“There is competitiveness and skepticism and mistrust,” occupational therapist Ivy Vega told the paper. “It’s turning into a rivalry.”