I’m inclined to become a soldier in this COVID-19 war because this is the main event now: getting the country vaccinated before things really go downhill. There are vaccines and there are arms, and you need vaccinators to bring them together. —Eugene Ross, MD
Explore This IssueApril 2021
ENTT: What was required for you to sign up to volunteer?
ER: To volunteer, you need to have been retired for fewer than five years, licensed to practice in the state, and in good standing. I’m still actively licensed in New York and used to practice in New Jersey, so they could reactivate my license or grant me a temporary license for New Jersey by endorsement from an active license. All they had to do was call Albany; it took 15 minutes for me to get a temporary license.
ENTT: What did you notice about the logistics of the vaccine rollout?
ER: One of the problems is the sporadic and inconsistent nature of our networks for delivery of public health. The first two vaccines required a lot of logistical and storage capital, and there were limits in New Jersey. But we’re 45 miles from Manhattan, and Rutgers University and Princeton are nearby, so we’re not in the sticks. Fortunately, the Middlesex County Health Department is really good, and the volunteer coordinator is really diligent and communicative. The devil is in the details, and the mechanism on the ground here is good. I’ve seen a positive side of public health.
ENTT: What makes you continue to volunteer when you’ve already worked for so many years and contributed so much?
ER: I had a long career that I really enjoyed, and I was glad to conclude it. But I still want to be productive, and what matters now is that we’re trying to vaccinate 2.5 million people a day. So I’ve inserted myself into the mix. I imagine how I would feel right now if I weren’t doing this and instead just watching when I knew I had two good hands to help. My motivation is a mixture of need, opportunity, and capability. I’ll do this as long as they’ll put arms in front of me.
Linda Kossoff is a freelance medical writer in West Hills, Calif.