Biden-Harris Administration and Primary Care

On June 11, the White House held an online town hall titled “Primary Care Providers, Health Systems, and the Next Phase of the Vaccination Rollout.” Part of the Biden-Harris administration’s National Month of Action, it blanketed local TV, radio and social media to educate Americans about the COVID vaccines with messages from leading medical associations.

The town hall event included five conversations with prominent administration health leaders, including Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky. Although it received mixed reactions during the broadcast, it was the most prominent public acknowledgement of primary care’s contribution to the COVID vaccination effort by the administration.

In opening remarks, Dr. Bechara Choucair, the White House’s Vaccinations Coordinator on the COVID Response Team, thanked the primary care community on behalf of the administration for its “tireless work over the course of this pandemic.” He acknowledged the critical role primary care clinicians have in administering the vaccine, particularly for people who still have questions about it. “You are the most trusted source of vaccine information for your patients and for your communities, and your offices are the most preferred location to get COVID vaccines,” he said.

Choucair hosted the final conversation on health departments’ role in ensuring that primary care practices have access to the vaccines. The chief medical officer in the Ohio Department of Health, representing the public health community, spoke of ways the department has been making it easier for primary care practices to administer the vaccines, such as allowing practices to order their vaccine supply directly, based on their own demand, rather than going through the health department. He encouraged state and local health departments to engage practices early in their effort, since practices know what the local challenges and opportunities for vaccinations.

Although primary care was brought in late to the massive national vaccine effort, this event showed that the administration is seeking practical ways of making vaccinates convenient and acceptable to every American and that primary care can be an integral part of it. Choucair concluded: “My call to action: If you’re not [administering vaccines], CDC offers resources and toolkits to support you to sign up, to become vaccinators … We have a sense of urgency. Pick up the phone. Talk to your patients. Send them text messages, emails, letters, for those who haven’t been vaccinated … Also make sure you’re very vocal about educating your patients and your community. Be engaged on social media and in regular local interviews.”

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