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Veterinarians: Louisiana's Forgotten Essential Workers

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Updated 2/3/21: The Louisiana Department of Health is now including veterinarians in Phase 1b, Tier 2 for eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. The timing of availability is dependent upon many variables, most importantly the amount of vaccine that is made available to Louisiana residents.

Let’s get one thing straight. Vaccination supplies are limited, and not everyone who needs a vaccine will be able to get one right away. However, most of those labeled essential workers at the start of the pandemic know where they fit in the vaccination plan. Almost all of these workers can easily look up what phase of the vaccine rollout they will be included in, except for one group: veterinarians and their staff.

Louisiana, we have a problem. This oversight is not OK.

When Louisiana first shut down, most animal hospitals and clinics remained open. The doctors, technicians, and support staff continued to go to work to fulfill their duty to those that rely on them. Not only did their work continue, but in many cases, they saw an increase in business. This is most likely the result of the rest of us being able to work safely from home and wondering, “hmmm, has Rover always had a limp?”

These individuals working in a genuinely noble profession were there for us when we needed them, and now that things are opening back up and vaccines are on the way, we have forgotten them.

According to state officials, Louisiana is following CDC guidelines for the vaccine rollout. That’s a great starting point, but I’d like to think that the state can think for itself when needed. If these guidelines do not include a group that we had in our essential workers groupings, we need to adjust.

Everyone agrees that human medical professionals need to be vaccinated first. What troubles me is that teachers, whom I believe are truly deserving of an early vaccine, have either received a vaccine already or are in the process of scheduling them. Whereas, if an emergency were to occur, teachers are able to work from home, but veterinarians and their support staff, who cannot work remotely, are nowhere to be found in the state’s plans.

We must do better. Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and others in this field ultimately make up a small portion of Louisiana’s workforce and because of that, they lack meaningful political influence. They go about their days helping creatures that cannot help themselves. Now it is our time to help them get the protection they desperately require.

In closing, we leave you with this: Somewhere in Louisiana, an elderly person who has been in lockdown and has relied on their pet for companionship throughout this entire pandemic is now waiting nervously, praying that their four-legged friend will make it through surgery. That pet is in the skilled hands of a veterinarian who came to work today despite knowing that Louisiana has forgotten them.

Full Disclosure: Pyxis only contracts one veterinarian for work on the Exero Vet platform. The majority of Pyxis employees and contractors are not veterinarians. This article is not intended to help our own personal situation, but rather help those whom we believe are deserving.

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