Dr. Gail Schonfeld of East End Pediatrics has been approved by New York State to administer the Covid-19 vaccine but does not yet have it on hand and urged people to hold off calling her office, because the volume of inquiries is overwhelming her office staff.
"I don't know when I will be able to actually order it and how much I'll be able to order, and I don't know when I'm going to know," Dr. Schonfeld said late Wednesday afternoon. Updates will be posted on the practice's Facebook page, facebook.com/EEPeds. Until then, she said, the overwhelming number of calls will only inhibit the doctors' ability to properly care for patients.
"We are getting inundated with phone calls. . . . I do want to help everybody, but I can't," Dr. Schonfeld said. "If the phone rings off the hook to the point where we can't do our job to take care of our patients, it's not good. . . . I get it, I really get it, but thousands of phone calls a day is going to make us unable to do anything."
When the vaccine does arrive in East Hampton, she said, "we'll find a way to do scheduling that is fair and accessible, but it won't be by calling."
Even then, Dr. Schonfeld said, she will have to adhere to the state's rules governing who is eligible to receive the vaccine. She said she does plan on holding vaccine clinics, including one for teachers at the Springs School, but that is still most likely several weeks away. There will be no preferential treatment, she said.
"The limiting thing is . . . how many vaccines can be distributed. I can't break the rules. The government is controlling it," she said. "I will lose my license if I break the rules. . . . I will do my very best to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible."
Neither of the vaccines currently approved in the United States have been authorized for children. "Pfizer's vaccine has been authorized for ages 16 and up, while Moderna's vaccine is currently authorized for ages 18 and up," according to the Mayo Clinic.
"We always focus on adults first . . . and that's appropriate in the case of Covid because of the severity of the disease in adults," Dr. Roberta Debiasi, the head of pediatric infectious diseases at Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., told NPR three weeks ago. "In all vaccines, we always want to do our initial efficacy and safety studies in the adult population, in particular for this disease where that group of people are the most heavily affected with hospitalizations, severe infection and death."