Doctor Fired for Using Vaccines That Would’ve Expired if Not Used
A Houston doctor was fired for allegedly taking vaccines off-site to give to eligible people.
In April 2020 Dr. Hasan Gokal became the emergency response physician for the Office of Preparedness at the Houston Methodist and Memorial Hermann. Later in December, the hospital opened its first vaccine site, which Dr. Gokal assisted with.
Dr. Gokal claimed that during this time at the hospital, they did not give any formal procedures on what to do in the case of having leftover vaccines.
“My background is emergency medicine…You do what you have to do to save that life no matter what,” Dr. Gokal told KHOU 11.
After calling a Harris County public health official in charge of operations, Dr. Gokal said that he was given an “ok”, and proceeded to search for eligible candidates to use the leftover vaccines that only had about 6 hours of shelf-life left. Reaching out to family and friends he eventually found 10 people who qualified under the state’s vaccine requirements.
“In the event, you get leftover with any vaccine, don’t waste any…Go find people who are eligible in that tier. If you can’t find any, go to the next tier. If you can’t find that give it to anybody who’s willing and able to take it.”
The people he found were three women between the ages of 60-70, a household of four people all between the ages of 60 to 90 and three others that weren’t specified. At the last minute though, Dr. Gokal’s final appointment didn’t show up.
With minutes left before the vaccine would expire, he gave the last dose to his wife. Dr. Gokal’s wife has pulmonary disease, giving her shortness of breath which allowed her to qualify.
“My wife is a 1B because she’s been in and out of the hospital for the last 18 months several times because of a lung condition,” he said to KHOU 11.
The following morning Dr. Gokal submitted paperwork for all 10 people he administered the vaccine to, informing his supervisor and colleagues as well. On Jan. 21 however, he was fired and charged with “stealing” vaccine doses.
Gokal defended his decision following the firing. The doctor’s charges were dropped because the judge decided they were baseless charges. Although the judge already decided that the charges were baseless, the Harris County District Attorney says she still plans on presenting the case to a grand jury.