A New York City hospital apologized to staff after revealing that some workers had received access to the coronavirus vaccine despite being in low-risk categories, according to a report from The New York Times.
In an email to staff obtained by the Times, an executive at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital said he was “disappointed and saddened that this happened.”
The rules of distribution in the hospital state that the most exposed workers were to receive the vaccine first.
However, amid rumors that anyone could line up for the vaccine, several lower-risk workers, some of whom had worked from home during the pandemic, received it, the Times reported.
“We are proud to have vaccinated thousands of patient-facing employees in just over a week, and we will continue to do so until everyone receives a vaccine,” NewYork-Presbyterian said in a statement.
“We are following all New York State Department of Health guidelines on vaccine priority, with our initial focus on [intensive care unit] and [emergency department] staff and equitable access for all,” it read.
The Hill has reached out to NewYork-Presbyterian for confirmation and comment.
Workers at several other hospitals in the New York City area also told the Times they objected to how the vaccine had been distributed, but feared professional retaliation for speaking out. Some doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital reportedly were able to join the line for the vaccine simply by saying they handled “COVID-related procedures.”
Most states have given priority to health care workers and the elderly in distributing the vaccine. Individual hospitals are largely given discretion to develop their own vaccination plans, according to the Times.
A Mount Sinai doctor said not all rumors about the ease with which one could hop the line were true, but that their very existence demonstrated a lack of trust among workers.
Ramon Tallaj, who serves on a vaccine rollout advisory task force, told the Times that the sense of competition will likely fade as access to the vaccine improves.
“People are going to fight over who goes first, or who doesn’t go first, but the important thing is that it’s happening,” he told the newspaper.
“I think the sad thing is people are starting to turn against each other,” a doctor who works at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital told the Times. “Can you honestly say this clerk deserves it before I do? No, but nobody deserves it before anyone else.”
Updated 6:10 p.m.