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Doctors Protest Vaccine Plan: 'First in the Room! Back of the Line!'

Stanford medical residents miffed after finding out front-line workers weren't prioritized for COVID shots
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2020 8:15 AM CST

(Newser) – Stanford Health Care has issued an apology after word on how it would distribute its coronavirus vaccine backfired. According to Stanford's vaccine dissemination plan published earlier this week, priority for the shots was to be given to "those who provide direct care and service to patients, those who are at the highest risk of being exposed to COVID-19, and those who have an elevated risk of complications from the disease." On Friday, however, medical residents and fellows working directly with COVID patients showed up in protest at the medical center, saying they'd learned that wasn't the case, and that higher-ranking doctors not tending to COVID patients were slotted to get the shots first, per NPR. ProPublica reports an algorithm was used to determine who'd get the first 5,000 inoculations—and that of the 1,300 or so residents often working on the front lines, only seven were prioritized to receive the vaccination.

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"First in the room! Back of the line!" were the shouts heard at Friday's protest, seen in a video posted on social media, per NBC News. While ProPublica notes that Stanford Medicine didn't comment on whether its algorithm was flawed, residents say a chief resident informed them they likely got the short end of the stick because of their youth and because they didn't yet have a "location" assigned to them that the algorithm could pick up on. Stanford Health Care sent out a late Friday apology, noting its intent was "to develop an ethical and equitable process for distribution," and that it was fixing things ASAP to "better sequence the distribution of the vaccine." Meanwhile, a letter from the Chief Residents Council to Stanford leadership pushes back on the faulty algorithm excuse. (Read more Stanford University Hospital stories.)

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