Doctors' offices: What is our place in the vaccination line?
PLAINVIEW, N.Y. - Kathy Ruggiero is a licensed practical nurse at Allied Physicians Group in Plainview and tests children for coronavirus daily. She and her colleagues are doing the best they can to protect themselves but say they feel forgotten when it comes to their turn to get a vaccine.
"We're exposed," Ruggiero said. "Give us the vaccine I'm trying my hardest to keep it away but there's only so much I can do."
And Ruggiero poses an even greater risk to her husband, Bob, who is fighting lung cancer.
"It's my biggest fear," she said. "If he gets COVID, I don't know what's going to happen."
Dr. Kerry Fierstein, the CEO of Allied Physicians Group, represents 150 clinicians and a workforce of 300 employees.
"They're asking me when we're getting vaccinated and I don't have information for them," Fierstein said.
Doctors say many of their patients don't wear masks due to their age or other issues, which puts them and their staff at an even greater risk.
"We've been open the entire time of the pandemic, seeing patients, keeping emergency rooms empty because the patients are coming to us," she said.
A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office stopped short of giving a timeframe for outpatient healthcare workers and instead reiterated the order of New York's distribution plan, which calls for high-risk hospital workers to get vaccinated first and then nursing home residents and staff, people in long-term care facilities, EMS workers, and frontline health care workers.
A petition started by two pediatricians aims to get the government's attention.
"We want to know there's a list somewhere that we're on," Fierstein said. "We went to be acknowledged for being a part of the team."