A media report suggesting that some Peace Arch Hospital staff members jumped the COVID-19 vaccine queue, despite not being directly involved in patient care, is not accurate, according to the Fraser Health Authority.
The article, quoting anonymous sources who work at Peace Arch Hospital, indicated that a director at the hospital, who is not involved in day-to-day direct patient care, as well as the director’s son and son-in-law, who work at the hospital as a porter and a screener, received COVID-19 doses before frontline workers did.
While Fraser Health acknowledges that three Peace Arch Hospital staff received the vaccine, Fraser Health media representative Dixon Tam defined them as as “priority staff.”
Tam said when a vaccination clinic concludes for the day, any remaining doses of the vaccine must be used, as once the doses are reconstituted, they cannot be placed back in storage.
To avoid vaccine wastage, if doses remain after a clinic takes place, staff will proactively reach out to other Fraser Health sites to ask if priority staff are interested in getting vaccinated, Tam wrote in an email to Peace Arch News.
“In this particular case, on December 28, clinic staff at Royal Columbian Hospital contacted Peace Arch Hospital to ask if any priority staff wanted to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Royal Columbia Hospital that day,” Tam wrote.
“Three people volunteered to attend the immunization clinic. All of them are Fraser Health staff – one is a director who works in long term care, while the other two work at Peace Arch Hospital in priority areas.”
Tam said no members of Fraser Health’s senior executive team have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“However, we are aware of a handful of leaders who received a vaccination. We are doing our best to ensure high priority staff are being vaccinated first and no wastage of vaccine occurs.”
On Friday, after seeing the response from Fraser Health in an earlier version of this story on PAN’s website, Peace Arch Hospital emergency-room physician Jerrod Hendry emailed PAN and criticized the vaccine-rollout plan for prioritizing “an administrator, porter and screener” over physicians and nurses in ERs, intensive-care units and COVID-19 units, calling the move, “a slap in the face to all of us that put our lives on the line to walk into and take care of COVID-positive patients.
“Most of the rest of us ‘lower priority workers’ had to wait until weeks later to get our vaccinations,” Hendry noted.
“If I or any of my ER colleagues from any of the Fraser Health facilities had been given a call to go to RCH to get a vaccination on Dec 27, there would have been many more than 17 staff members that would have dropped everything to go.”
Meanwhile, on Jan. 13, Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed disappointment that some Vancouver-area doctors jumped the queue for a second vaccine dose.
Dix made the comments during a press conference about B.C.’s vaccine rollout, after being asked about allegations that doctors in Vancouver Coastal Health took their second dose before they were invited to. He said officials learned of it through a review of the systems, but declined to comment on any possible repercussions.
Dr. Penny Balem, the new lead of the Immunize BC task force and chair of Vancouver Coastal Health, echoed Dix’s comments.
“It’s a serious issue. Fortunately it’s a very small number of people and… we hope this is not anything we see a recurrence of,” she said.
Health officials were also asked about reports of queue jumping by admin staff. Dix said there have been “reports of some cases where some people appear to have gone out of line for COVID-19 immunizations,” but that overall roll-out has been “amazing.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that if there are doses leftover when Pfizer vaccine approaches the maximum six hours it can handle in an unfrozen state, there is a list of people who are called, to avoid wasting extra doses.
More information about vaccine priority groups can be found here.
– with files from Katya Slepian