Frontline healthcare workers at Stanford Medicine protested the hospital’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine Friday. The plan gave priority to senior staff, many of whom work from home, over residents and fellows, many of whom work on the frontline with COVID-19 patients.
Residents are junior staff who are training to become doctors but have graduated medical school. Many residents work in close proximity with COVID-19 patients. But while over 1,300 residents work at Stanford, only seven were selected to receive one of the first 5,000 vaccinations.
Chief residents sent a letter to Stanford Medicine senior staff expressing their frustration over the plan.
"Many of us know senior faculty who have worked from home since the pandemic began in March 2020, with no in-person patient responsibilities, who were selected for vaccination. In the meantime, we residents and fellows strap on N95 masks for the tenth month of this pandemic without a transparent and clear plan for our protection in place," they wrote. "While leadership is pointing to an error in an algorithm meant to ensure equity and justice, our understanding is this error was identified on Tuesday and a decision was made not to revise the vaccine allocation scheme before its release today."
Videos of the protests are going viral on social media.
In one of the videos, a hospital director told protesters a faulty algorithm was used to distribute vaccines. Protesters did not accept this response and erupted in shouts.
"It seems that the intentions have been very good but there was a mistake, and there was no resident representation. How do we prevent this from happening in the future?" One protester questioned.
After the protests Friday, Stanford Medicine's senior faculty sent an email apologizing for their plan.
"We fully recognize we should have acted more swiftly to address the errors that resulted in an outcome we did not anticipate," they wrote. "We are working quickly to address the flaws in our plan and develop a revised version."
Senior faculty said they hope to vaccinate "a substantial segment" of hospital staff with the next round of vaccinations. Those vaccinations could come as early as next week.
Hospital executives did not make it clear what the revised plan would entail. However, some senior faculty members have pledged to give their vaccines to residents.
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