WA Veterinarian Association tells members they are priority for vaccinations

Last Thursday, the Washington State Veterinarian Medical Association (WSVMA) sent out guidance to its members stating that they were eligible for vaccinations, per Dept. of Health guidance.

That turned out not to be accurate. The WSVMA corrected itself today in a release to its site. However, in the intervening days, calls from veterinarians into health care providers for vaccines spiked, causing frustration, threats and befuddlement among health care providers.

On Thursday, WSVMA emailed its membership telling them they were eligible for vaccines. They also explained how to navigate the vaccination protocol to represent themselves as “health care workers.”

In the absence of the state naming specific health care professionals in the Covid-19 Vaccine Allocation Guidance, and because the veterinary community has followed all Governor orders pertaining to health care settings, the WSVMA believes that veterinarians and veterinary team members qualify to obtain the vaccine in Phase 1A, Tier 2.

Washington state is relying on an honor system to determine eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations, freeing those who are administering the vaccine the need to police who qualifies.

Go to the Washington COVID-19 eligibility screening survey and complete the qualifying questions. In order to be approved, you have to select that you are a health care worker, and you are exposed to the general public. Once approved, you will be given a list of providers. (emphasis WSVMA)

This resulted in calls to providers with demands for vaccinations from veterinarians.

One provider said that their clinic had “been inundated” with calls from veterinarians, but that the clinic hesitated to schedule those requests.

These callers wanted to elbow their way past cancer patients, which is ridiculous.

Another clinic administrator told State of Reform that the clinic had received threats of lawsuits for not being willing to schedule vaccinations for veterinarians.

It started with the typical “How dare you!” But, then it moved into threats of lawsuits and legal action. Some were saying they would call the Dept. of Health, to which we responded ‘Great! Call DOH, and let them know how crazy this all is.’

This morning, the WSVMA provided its members additional guidance, clarifying that last week’s communication was incorrect.

In our efforts to get veterinary professionals vaccinated, we’ve been told by health officials that we’re not included in Phase 1A, Tier 2, but a later phase to be determined.

We’ve already heard from several veterinarians who were approved through the eligibility screening survey, but when they called the location to schedule the vaccination, they were turned away and told veterinarians are not included with the other health care workers.

We have requested comment from both the DOH and the WSVMA.