Students at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth said that for weeks they had received no communication from the school about when they would receive their vaccines, so some drove hours across the state looking for private pharmacists who would give them shots. And at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, students said they also had to “take matters into their own hands,” and reach out to private pharmacies to inquire about getting vaccinated because until last weekend, they were not told how to receive vaccines from their school.
“The C.D.C. guidelines did not have the level of granularity needed for hospitals and schools to make decisions,” said Dr. Alison Whelan, chief academic officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “There’s been a fair amount of variability because of the lack of a national plan.”
Adding to the confusion, the vaccines were allocated to states according to their populations, which do not always reflect their populations of health care workers, added Dr. Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer of the association. There are 21,000 med students in the country.
For some of them, there’s a sense of guilty relief as they receive the vaccine knowing some of their peers still have not.
“One of my close friends is a dental student and is in people’s mouths on a regular basis, but she hasn’t received the Covid vaccine,” said Azan Virji, a second-year medical student at Harvard who got his first dose in late December. “It feels like there’s a disparity.”
Still, Mr. Virji said he has treated Covid-19 patients many times and felt a weight lifted knowing he is now inoculated.
“My parents in Tanzania may not have access to this vaccine until 2022, and now I’m one of the first people to have access to it,” he said. “It’s bittersweet, but essential for me to feel calmer in the hospital.”