SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A Bay Area hospital has come under fire after allowing one group to cut to the front of the line for access to the coronavirus vaccine.
Santa Clara County has suspended allocations of vaccine to Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, after it learned the hospital was vaccinating school district employees who were not health care providers.READ MORE: Fed Judge in SF Approves $650 Million Facebook Privacy Lawsuit Settlement
The hospital is currently offering vaccines only to first responders and healthcare workers, a group known as Tier 1A.
Last Thursday, Los Gatos Union School District Superintendent, Paul Johnson sent an email to staff saying Good Samaritan was offering vaccinations to school district personnel, saying the hospital was not forgetting the school district’s donation of food to frontline workers under its “Feed Our Heroes” program. It went on to say those signing up for vaccination should register as if they were a healthcare worker.
“There were a lot of factors there that were very concerning to us as reflected in the letter that we sent the hospital,” said Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams.
The county’s letter says Good Samaritan’s actions are “inconsistent with both the letter and spirit of the state’s direction on vaccine eligibility.”
It says school workers are not currently eligible for vaccination and falsely claiming to be a healthcare worker is done under penalty of perjury.
“That system relies on people being truthful. That’s why perjury is a crime,” said Williams.READ MORE: UPDATE: Victim, Suspect Identified In Fatal Oakland Park Shooting in Front of Children
The hospital would not comment on camera Monday, but denied the offer had anything to do with the meals program. They said they were only trying to administer 65 unused doses of vaccine that had been thawed, before they went bad.
That’s not the impression the school district had at its meeting later that night. In it, Paul Johnson, Los Gatos School’s Superintendent, said employees had been signing up to get the vaccine.
“There were available slots today and they were able to get vaccinated,” Johnson said. “The vast majority are scheduled coming up in the future. I think tomorrow and throughout this next week.”
And responding to an objection from the public, other board members said they didn’t see the ethical problem with it.
“There was no cheating,” said board member Daniel Snyder. “The provider, Good Samaritan was crystal clear. They offered it. They made this available.”
Superintendent Johnson now says linking the vaccine to the meals donation was his own interpretation. But even in apologizing for that, he said he would continue to advocate for his school staff to get the vaccine.
“I believe that our staff needs to be vaccinated in the middle of this pandemic,” he said.MORE NEWS: COVID: Youth, Adult Multi-Team Sports Can Resume In Alameda Co., Berkeley
The county says it will offer second doses to those who require it, but will not allocate any additional doses of vaccine to Good Samaritan until a plan is in place to assure the regulations will be followed.