A hospital in Bellevue, Washington, has apologized for emailing about 100 benefactors an invitation to sign up for the Covid-19 vaccination.
“We’re pleased to share that we have 500 new open appointments in the Overlake COVID-19 vaccine clinic,” said an email from an Overlake Medical Center, which also provided a special access code to register.
The email was obtained by The Seattle Times.
Overlake sent the email to about 4,000 members of its community “including volunteers, retired nurses and physicians, all employees and about 100 donors from our Foundation database,” according to a statement by the hospital.
As of January 22, Washington is in Phase 1B tier 1 of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution, according to the state’s health department website. This means all people over age 65 and those over 50 in multigenerational households are eligible to be vaccinated.
Gov. Jay Inslee expressed concern over the emails during a press conference Tuesday.
“If, in fact, they were giving preference to some VIP list, that’s not the way to do it,” he said. “That is not acceptable for us. We need to give everybody a fair shot at the vaccine.”
Hospital officials said in the statement they understand an error was made. “We recognize we made a mistake by including a subset of our donors and by not adopting a broader outreach strategy to fill these appointments, and we apologize,” the statement said.
The hospital’s statement noted that people who received the invitations could only sign up if they were legally eligible to get the vaccine under current Washington state policy.
“Our intent and commitment has always been to administer every vaccine made available to us safely, appropriately, and efficiently,” the hospital said.
The hospital’s statement also said it had administered 11,000 vaccines to date and “will soon administer vaccines for over 40,000 community members who have upcoming appointments scheduled through our online system.”