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Frontline Workers Complain Of Chaotic Vaccine Rollout At Mass General Brigham

BOSTON (CBS) - For months, Brigham and Women's NICU nurse, Jen DeVincent, treated some of the pandemic's most tender patients.
"Even yesterday, I was in a COVID positive mother's room on postpartum," DeVincent said.

When the time came to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, DeVincent says she found herself out of luck when the system the hospital is using to make vaccine appointments crashed.

"There have been nurse managers who have gotten it before frontline worker staff. There's been unit coordinators who have gotten it. They're not in the COVID patient rooms," she said.

Jen DeVincent
Brigham and Women's NICU nurse Jen DeVincent (WBZ-TV)

A week after the first rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts, some frontline workers are sounding off about what they call a chaotic process.

"I'm an ER Doctor and despite trying everything, I have not yet been able to be vaccinated," wrote Brigham and Women's Doctor Jeremy Faust on Twitter.

Mass. General Doctor Emily Moin tweeted, "A first come, first serve scramble for vaccination appointments explicitly disadvantages people who work more."

Prior to the administration of the vaccine at Mass. General Brigham, the hospital system used an app called COVID Pass to sign workers up for appointments. The app crashed when a surge of people signed up for the first 9,000 doses of the vaccine.

When the app came back online, some employees say the appointments were filled within minutes. Those who were working at the time of the posting were left without appointments.

Others say a questionnaire meant to push frontline workers to the front of the vaccine line backfired.

"We definitely didn't do a good job of setting expectations," said Dr. Paul Biddinger, Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness for Mass General Brigham and Chair of the Governor's Vaccine Advisory Group. "The system that we used really created a sense of competition among staff that was of course, the last thing that we wanted to do."

Biddinger says the system will now stagger sign-ups for vaccine appointments and double its clinic capacity. He believes everyone in wave A of the hospitals' staff, that is the roughly 40,000 people who are most exposed to COVID-19, will be vaccinated by the first week of January.

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