Residents working at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto staged a protest Friday to demand that they be given priority in the line for healthcare workers getting the Pfizer COVID vaccine. It became known this week that while there are more than 1,300 residents and fellows at the hospital, many of whom are working on the front lines with COVID-positive patients — in the county that currently has the highest rate of surging infections in the Bay Area — there has been no clear plan to get them vaccinated, while many surgeons and doctors who do not see patients daily are getting vaccines first.
The first wave of 5,000 vaccinations happening at Stanford Medical Center this week only included seven front-line residents, according to a letter penned on behalf of the medical school's residents to the administration on Thursday.
"It is important for us to articulate to you that at this time, residents are hurt, disappointed, frustrated, angry, and feel a deep sense of distrust towards the hospital administration given the sacrifices we have been making and the promises that were made to us," the letter reads.
The letter pointed to the fact that there were senior faculty at the medical school, who not only were not treating patients but had been working from home since the pandemic began, who were given priority for the first wave of vaccine doses.
Friday's protest, as the Chronicle reports, led to an apology from the hospital administration, with President and CEO of Stanford Health David Entwhistle telling the crowd, "We’ll correct it. We know that it’s wrong."
Apparently, the prioritization list for vaccinations was created using an algorithm that gave weight to senior faculty and staff due to their age. However, the hospital reportedly discovered the issue on Tuesday as the first vaccines were getting administered, and decided not to change the prioritization order.
In a statement to the Chronicle, Stanford Health Care spokesperson Lisa Kim says, "Our intent was to roll out an ethical and equitable plan for the entire organization, and there were flaws in that plan that we are actively working to repair."
The angry letter from residents demanded a "concrete" timeline for their vaccinations by the end of Friday.
"Ultimately, we understand that the lack of inclusion in the institutional vaccination plan is a result of resident disempowerment at Stanford Medicine," the residents write. "Our disempowerment is not isolated to vaccine allocation, which is why many of the items above reflect our need to have a greater stake in the decisions that impact us and our patients within the institution."