Emergency department patients can get vaccinated in effort to bring vaccine to people

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Lifespan is now offering COVID-19 vaccinations to patients seeking treatment for other illnesses or injuries in each of its emergency departments.

In coordination with Rhode Island Department of Health, Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital and Newport Hospital are offering the vaccine to qualifying emergency patients at discharge between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and approximately 11 p.m.; Hasbro Children’s Hospital is able to do the same for those 18 and older.

“While a large number of people have gotten vaccinated, we still are not near the 70-80% that we need to get to really make this disease go away,” Dr. Jay Schuur, Chief of Emergency Medicine for Lifespan said. “Every day in the emergency department we’re seeing patients who still are getting COVID.”

Dr. Schuur says while the state is making good progress on vaccines, there’s still a ways to go.

“What we’ve seen is all of the people who are really self motivated to get the vaccine are getting them at these big centers, but we now need to go to where people are,” Dr. Schuur said. “We’re aiming to vaccinate people who aren’t very ill, who aren’t going to be admitted to the hospital, that’s about three-quarters of the patients who come to the emergency department.”

The effort is aimed at improving vaccination rates among populations who are at greatest risk from COVID-19 and who are also more frequent users of the emergency department, including those from higher density zip codes, patients 75 or older, those with certain higher-risk medical conditions, patients with acute behavioral illness and those facing homelessness or other socioeconomic distress.

“Patients come to the emergency department for many reasons, but one reason is if they don’t have good access to healthcare or they may be working two jobs,” Dr. Schuur said. “So, it’s an opportunity while they’re there to offer a vaccine and have a healthcare professional who they will trust answer their questions.”

Since those patients are discharged, the hospital is using the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. While many remain reluctant to get the shot following reports of rare blood clots, a new American Heart Association study co-sponsored by Lifespan Chief of Neurology, Karen Furie, proves it’s safe.

“It’s a rare condition and the risk of developing CVST is actually higher with COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Furie said.

Dr. Furie says the report proved the risk of CVST blood clots is 8-10 times higher for those infected with COVID-19 compared to the risk from the vaccine.

“With COVID, we were seeing patients come in, particularly younger patients, who have clots in arteries going into the brain as well as in veins,” Dr. Furie said. “It’s very important to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s the most effective way to prevent CVST and other forms of clotting that can damage the brain.”

The study showed the people most affected by CVST are middle-aged woman. Many of them presented with symptoms like a headache.

Dr. Furie says if you have concerns about which vaccine to get, talk to your doctor.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island