Hospital Offered Donors 'Invite-Only' Vaccine Access

'That's not the way to do it,' Washington governor says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2021 4:24 PM CST
Hospital Offered Donors 'Invite-Only' Vaccine Access
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says rich people won't be allowed to move to the front of the line for COVID vaccination. The governor spoke out after it emerged that the Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue had offered major donors "invite-only" access to vaccination appointments within a week while the hospital's public site was fully booked until March, the Seattle Times reports. The hospital shut down the invite-only clinic after a call from an Inslee aide. "If in fact they were giving preference to some VIP list, that’s not the way to do it. That is not acceptable for us," the governor said Tuesday. "We need to give everybody a fair shot at the vaccine," he said. "We've got to maintain public credibility in the system."

The hospital says it was only trying to fill unused vaccination slots at short notice, but it admits it could have handled the situation better, KING 5 reports. In a statement, the hospital said that when the "overtaxed" scheduling system failed, it sent emails to everybody it had on file, "including all of our 3,300 employees, patients aged 65 and above, groups of retired nurses and physicians, and our volunteer and donor communities." Overlake said those who accepted the appointments had to show proof of eligibility. "We're under pressure to vaccinate people who are eligible and increase capacity," Tom DeBord, the medical center’s chief operating officer, tells the Times. "In hindsight, we could certainly look back and say this wasn’t the best way to do it." (More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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