Two hospital directors and two other Fraser Health staff members are being accused of jumping the queue and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of front-line health workers in B.C., sources tell Global News.
Fraser Health workers say the issue arose on Dec. 27, 2020, at a vaccine clinic at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster — less than two weeks after the first shots against the novel coronavirus were administered in British Columbia.
According to those workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs, the clinic ended up with 17 unadministered doses after a day of giving the vaccine to front-line workers.
The executive director overseeing the clinic then reached out to other directors in the Fraser Health region to offer up those extra doses.
A director at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, whose colleagues tell Global News is not involved in day-to-day direct patient care, ultimately received one of those doses. That director’s son and son-in-law, who work at the hospital as a porter and a screener, respectively, also received doses before many front-line workers did.
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Days later, another director assisting with an on-site immunization clinic at Peace Arch also received one of the leftover vaccine doses. Public health officials had recommended that director receive the vaccine, sources tell Global News, but the reason why was not shared.
Fraser Health front-line workers who first raised the allegations say none of the four people who received those extra doses are on the front lines of the pandemic, or have any direct or intimate contact with COVID-19 patients.
The health authority’s language about vaccine priority matches that on the B.C. government and BC Centre for Disease Control websites, which say the vaccine should first go to “those providing care to COVID-19 patients in settings like intensive care units, COVID-19 units and emergency departments.”
Fraser Health confirmed in an email to Global News that three family members — the Peace Arch director and her son and son-in-law — were vaccinated in December. A spokesperson said regional staff regularly reaches out to “priority staff” in the instance of leftover doses to avoid vaccine wastage.
The authority did not explain why those doses weren’t given instead to front-line workers, or what happened to the other dozen doses left over at the Royal Columbian clinic on Dec. 27.
When asked if any other directors, board members or their relatives have received the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of front-line workers, Fraser Health would only say no other members of its “senior executive team” had.