Residents and fellows at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California, formed a protest Friday after staff members who are working from home were selected to receive the first round of the coronavirus vaccine instead of front-line workers.
“I saw 16 COVID patients in the past 24 hours … more than double the amount of residents getting the vaccine,” one of the doctor’s signs read. “First in the room, back of the line,” another said.
NEW: Stanford used an algorithm to decide who got the #COVID #vaccine first, and the result was only 7 of the first 5,000 slots went to residents… the same week they were asked to volunteer for ICU coverage in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 cases.https://t.co/tupAeyHudx pic.twitter.com/gr5CaPoV7G
— Caroline Chen (@CarolineYLChen) December 18, 2020
There is an enormous demonstration going on at @Stanford Hospital right now carried out by staff, who are protesting the decision by higher ups to give vaccines to some administrators and physicians who are at home and not in contact with patients INSTEAD of frontline workers. pic.twitter.com/WXVkPR46eU
— rat king (@MikeIsaac) December 18, 2020
The protest began after only 7 of the hospital’s 1,300 residents made the list to receive one of the 5,000 initial doses of the vaccine, ProPublica reported. An algorithm chose who would make the list, and the residents were reportedly told that they had a disadvantage because they were young and did not have a “location” to plug into the calculation. (RELATED: Rich People Are Trying To Use Their Money To Cut In Line For The Coronavirus Vaccine)
In anticipation of a surge in coronavirus cases, the residents had been asked to volunteer for ICU coverage the same week that they were left off of the vaccine list, according to the report.
“We take complete responsibility for the errors in the execution of our vaccine distribution plan,” Stanford Medicine told the Daily Caller in a statement. “Our intent was to develop an ethical and equitable process for distribution of the vaccine.”
“We apologize to our entire community, including our residents, fellows, and other frontline care providers, who have performed heroically during our pandemic response,” Stanford Medicine added. “We are immediately revising our plan to better sequence the distribution of the vaccine.”
“It is important for us to articulate to you at this time that residents are hurt, disappointed, frustrated, angry, and feel a deep sense of distrust towards the hospital administration given the sacrifices we have been making and the promises that were made to us,” the chief resident counsel wrote in a Thursday letter to Stanford leadership, which was published by ProPublica.
“Stanford’s decision to de-prioritize residents and fellows is defenseless on the basis of science, reason, ethics, and equality,” the letter said. According to the letter, many of the residents know senior faculty who were selected for the first round of vaccinations despite having worked from home with no in-person contact with patients since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Please know that the perceived lack of priority for residents and fellows was not the intent at all,” chief medical officer Dr. Niraj Sehgal said in an email to residents, according to ProPublica. Because Moderna’s vaccine is expected to be authorized soon, Sehgal said that “we’re increasingly confident in getting everyone vaccinated, including all of you.”
Stanford Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.