search
top

Vaccine Insanity.

Dr. Hasan Gokal is a Houston, TX physician who is being prosecuted and we would say persecuted for giving the COVID-19 vaccine to “the wrong people.”

It’s an amazing story and one that demonstrates how government officials are more concerned with rules than doing the right thing.

According to the New York Times:

Dr. Gokal, 48, immigrated from Pakistan as a boy and earned a medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. After working at hospitals in Central New York, he moved to Texas in 2009 to oversee the emergency department at a suburban Houston hospital. His volunteer work has included rebuilding homes and providing medical care after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

In recent years, Dr. Gokal split his time between two area hospitals. But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, he lived for a month in a hotel and an apartment rather than risk infecting his wife, Maria, 47, who has pulmonary sarcoidosis, a disease in her lungs that leaves her winded after even minimal activity.

“I was petrified to go home and bring Covid to my wife,” he said.

Fortunately, he said, the Harris County Public Health department recruited him in April to become the medical director for its Covid-response team. The job paid less, but he was eager to protect his wife by limiting his exposure to the coronavirus in emergency rooms.

As the head of the COVID Response team, Gokal oversaw the administering of vaccines to patients at a local site.

On Dec. 22, Dr. Gokal joined a conference call in which state health officials explained the protocols for administering the recently approved Moderna vaccine. The 10 or 11 doses in a vial are viable for six hours after the seal is punctured.

Dr. Gokal said the advice was to vaccinate people eligible under the 1(a) category (health care workers and residents in long-term-care facilities), then those under the 1(b) category (people over 65 or with a health condition that increases risk of severe Covid-related illness).

After that, he said, the message was: “Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”

On December 29, Gokal was the supervisor for an inoculation “event” that was mainly for emergency workers. The event was not well advertised, and even though Gokal had arrived before dawn, as the day wore down it is estimated that no more than 250 doses of the vaccine had been administered.

That night, the staff was packing up. Car headlights were being used to illuminate the area. A person came to the site and in order to be vaccinated, Gokal had to open a new vial of the vaccine.

There was no one left to vaccinate. The staff was leaving. The event was over.

Most importantly, Gokal had an open vial of the vaccine with 10 doses in it. The 6 hour clock on having to administer the vaccine or throw it out was ticking.

Gokal asked the remaining staff if they had been vaccinated. All either had or did not want to receive the vaccine. The paramedics and police had left the scene.

There was no one left and the clock was still ticking.

Dr. Gokal said he called a Harris County public health official in charge of operations to report his plans to find 10 people to receive the remaining doses. He said he was told, simply: OK.

He said he then called another high-ranking colleague whose parents and in-laws were eligible for the vaccine. They weren’t available.

The hours were counting down.

The doctor figured that if he returned the open vial to his department’s almost certainly empty office at this late hour, it would go to waste. So as he started the drive to his home in a neighboring county, he said, he called people in his cellphone’s contact list to ask whether they had older relatives or neighbors needing to be immunized.

“No one I was really intimately familiar with,” Dr. Gokal said. “I wasn’t that close to anyone.”

When he reached his home in Sugar Land, waiting outside were a woman in her mid-60s with cardiac issues, and a woman in her early 70s with assorted health problems. He inoculated both.

Eight doses to go.

The doctor got back in his car — his wife insisted on going with him — and drove to a Sugar Land house with four eligible people: a man in his late 60s with health issues; the man’s bed-bound mother, in her 90s; his mother-in-law, in her mid-80s and with severe dementia; and his wife, her mother’s caregiver.

He then drove to the home of a housebound woman in her late 70s and administered the vaccine. “I didn’t know her at all,” he said.

Three doses remained, but three people had agreed to meet the doctor at his home. Two were already waiting: a distant acquaintance in her mid-50s who works at a health clinic’s front desk, and a 40-ish woman he had never met whose child relies on a ventilator.

As midnight approached, Dr. Gokal said, the third would-be recipient called to say that he wouldn’t be coming: too late.

Tired and frustrated, Dr. Gokal said that he turned to his wife, whose pulmonary sarcoidosis made her eligible for the vaccine. “I didn’t intend to give this to you, but in a half-hour I’m going to have to dump this down the toilet,” he recalled telling her. “It’s as simple as that.”

He said his hesitant wife asked whether it was the right thing to do. “It makes perfect sense,” he said he answered. “We don’t want any doses wasted, period.”

With 15 minutes to spare, Dr. Gokal gave his wife the last Moderna dose.

Mission accomplished.

No wasted dosages of the vaccine.

One would think that Gokal would be applauded and thanked for his desire to get the vaccine to people rather than to see it thrown away.

One would be wrong.

The next day Gokal filled out the paperwork on where the vaccine had gone and to whom it had been administered. He told his supervisor what had happened.

A few days later he was called into the office of that supervisor to meet with them and a person from human resources.

Gokal was fired.

The next blow came when the Houston District Attorney, one Kim Ogg, issued a press release entitled “Fired Harris County Health Doctor Charged With Stealing Vial Of Covid-19 Vaccine” saying Gokal would be prosecuted for “stealing” the vial of vaccine.

Before the release of the charges to the press, Gokal was never contacted by anyone from the District Attorney’s office to hear what had happened and why.

The press release actually states that Gokal administered the vaccine rather than returning it to be destroyed. (Because wasting the vaccine is better than inoculating people with it.)

Ogg also claimed that Gokal had violated the distribution protocols and had used his position to put his friends and family ahead of those who were on a waiting list.

And when [Gokal’s] lawyer requested copies of the written protocols and waiting list referred to in the complaint, a prosecutor told him by email that there were no written protocols from late December; nor had a written wait list yet been found.

The case went initially in front of Judge Franklin Bynum, who dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.

That hasn’t stopped DA Ogg from saying she will take the case to a grand jury and seek charges there.

In the meantime, Gokal is volunteering at a local hospital because no hospital will hire him until the case is resolved. Being prosecuted for having done the right thing for the right reasons is taking a mental and physical toll on Gokal, his wife, and his kids.

Dr. Gokal is in good standing with the Texas Medical Board and has practiced medicine for 21 years, including nine years in Texas.

For trying to help people; for trying to do the right thing; for not letting a limited resource go to waste; for following the verbal protocols of the Harris County Health Department, he is being prosecuted.

The people who brought this action against this man should be ashamed.

They won’t be.

But they should.



Comments are closed.

top