San Francisco-based One Medical, a concierge-type medical service and provider, revealed several of its employees had been fired after they allegedly accommodated ineligible residents for vaccinations.
A spokesperson for the company said the allegations “perpetuates dangerous public misconceptions” about the COVID-19 vaccine protocols they have set up. They added the patients they prioritized were those the departments of health referred, including health care workers, nursing home patients, educators, and homeless people.
The company said it had a “zero-tolerance policy” for any personnel giving preferential treatment to any patient.
San Francisco’s Department of Public Health sent a letter to One Medical where the city’s COVID-19 command center ordered the company to return 270 vials or 1,600 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. Authorities said they were halting vaccine distribution to One Medical and focusing on other priority populations.
Residents can sign up for One Medical with an annual payment of $199. The company has branches in more than a dozen cities in the United States. The company caters to higher-income patients.
Authorities are accusing One Medical of allowing residents to cut in line in getting the coronavirus vaccine. Several reports said the incident has been prevalent in areas such as Washington and Oregon.
“I think we have to be very vigilant from an ethical point of view, not just looking at what the regulations say, but what are the factors and the ways structural racism is actually built into the way the distribution channels are being set up,” Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics Director David Magnus said, ABC7 News reported.
One Medical later sent a lengthy letter defending itself and its protocols regarding the incident. They said the accusations were baseless allegations and did not represent the tireless efforts their staff have put forward amid the pandemic.