The Class War Over Covid-19 Vaccine Access Has Begun: Stanford Doctor Edition

Sheetal Sheth, a doctor at George Washington University Hospital, received the covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 14
Sheetal Sheth, a doctor at George Washington University Hospital, received the covid-19 vaccine on Dec. 14
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Physicians at Stanford Medical Center, who have been working directly with covid-positive ICU patients for months, protested in front of the hospital today over what they say is a botched rollout of covid-19 vaccinations among staff. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, residents at fellows at the hospital were promised that they would be included in the first wave of vaccinations, vaccinations specifically designated for frontline workers who are at the highest risk for infection. Yet with the first 5000 injections scheduled for Friday, “only seven residents and fellows were included,” the Chronicle reports.

Who is getting priority for the hospital’s limited number of vaccines? Residents and fellows sent a letter to Stanford’s top brass claiming that several senior faculty members, who have been working from home, were chosen to be vaccinated first, despite not having interacted with patients in person for months.


Residents and fellows, one of whom told the Chronicle he was made to “volunteer in the covid ICU, without extra pay,” quickly moved the protest to the front of the facility, where press had gathered. At some point, the CEO of Stanford Health addressed the protestors, promising to resolve the issue. But a firm plan was not offered on the spot.

Allegedly the error was caused by a faulty algorithm, however the protestors claim that Stanford became aware of the error on Tuesday and did nothing to course correct. A spokesperson for Stanford told the Chronicle that they are currently working to repair this issue. Meanwhile, several faculty heads who joined the protest said they would not accept the vaccine unless residents and fellows received it first.

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To me the dumbest binary so far has been “Essential Workers” Vs. “Old People”.

“Essential Workers” includes a lot of people who have been working from home or who have no trouble social distancing. Like me.  Yeah sure my place of business helps hospitals keep their lights on, but most of us can do that from behind a glowing screen in our jammies.

It seems painfully obvious vaccines should go where they will prevent the most deaths, period. That’s old people and maybe specifically identified groups of other highly vulnerable people first, with some allocation for the “Essential Workers” who are at the very front lines of this thing.

Then move down the age/vulnerability bucket.