Hospital Workers Start to ‘Turn Against Each Other’ to Get Vaccine

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“People are going to fight over who goes first, or who doesn’t go first, but the important thing is that it’s happening,” Dr. Tallaj, the chairman of SOMOS Community Care, a network of clinics across New York City that treat many patients from Hispanic and Asian immigrant communities, said of the vaccinations.

Health care workers and nursing home residents and staff members form what is called Phase 1 of New York State’s vaccine distribution plan. About two million people are in this group, and the state’s initial allocation of the vaccine most likely means that Phase 2, which includes essential workers, won’t begin until late January. (Widespread distribution isn’t likely to begin until the summer, officials have said.)

But the state has left it mostly to each health care institution to devise a vaccination plan during the first phase. In the first week of vaccinations, many hospitals chose a wide variety of health care workers — nurses, doctors, housekeepers — from emergency rooms and intensive care units to be the first at their institutions to receive the vaccine. But in the days after the celebrations accompanying the first shots, the moods at hospitals have shifted.

Asked about workers cutting the vaccine line at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian said in a statement, “We are proud to have vaccinated thousands of patient-facing employees in just over a week, and we will continue to do so until everyone receives a vaccine. 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.”

Still, The Times interviewed four health care workers at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, all of whom expressed resentment at colleagues and dismay that hospital administrators had allowed the vaccine distribution system to devolve.

One nurse at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital said she had gone as far as to confront a social worker who she believed had jumped the line about why the social worker thought she deserved the vaccine ahead of others.

“She said, ‘We have to go to E.R. sometime,’ but that’s not true,” the nurse said of the social worker.

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