SEATTLE - Authorities in Washington state on Monday told hospitals and other COVID-19 vaccine providers not to provide special access to people or risk having their supplies of doses cut.
"VIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices are banned and will not be tolerated," the state Department of Health said in a email to all enrolled vaccine providers. "If we find out a provider is giving out vaccine inequitably or is doing behaviors listed above or similar, we may reduce or stop allocations to that provider."
The Seattle Times has reported that three medical systems in the region — Providence Regional Medical Center, Overlake Medical Center & Clinics and EvergreenHealth — gave special vaccine access to big donors or foundation members.
Hospital officials have said they were testing scheduling software or trying to fill vaccine appointments quickly by using familiar contacts. Two of the organizations acknowledged they’d made a mistake in prioritizing influential people.
Currently in Washington state people aged 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household, can apply for appointments to get vaccinated.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan last week urged the state to reallocate vaccine doses to poor people and minorities, something a spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said Friday was already in progress.
According to the health department more than 728,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Washington and more than 130,000 people are considered "fully vaccinated." Washington’s population is more than 7.6 million.