Doctor defends stealing COVID-19 vaccine for friends, family

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A Houston doctor who was accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccines defended giving them to friends and family — saying he was doing what his “heart tells him is the right thing.”

Dr. Hasan Gokal claimed that the ten Moderna vaccine doses at the vaccination site in Humble would have gone unused if he didn’t take them home on Dec. 29, news station KHOU reported.

“In the event you get leftover with any vaccine, don’t waste any,” Gokal told the station.

“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.”

Gokal said it had been the first day that the Harris County site had been open — and health officials hadn’t given him any guidance on what to do with leftover vaccines.

“On the day that this occurred that; there was no such policy in place at that point,” Gokal told the outlet.

With only six hours until the shots would expire, he started going through his phone to reach out to people he knew that were eligible for the vaccine.

An empty vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr. Hasan Gokal said health officials hadn’t given him any guidance on what to do with leftover vaccines.
AFP via Getty Images

He said that he was able to find ten people that qualified for the shot, but then at last minute one of the people canceled on him.

Gokal said that with minutes to spare, he gave the final shot to his wife who would have been eligible under the next tier for the vaccine.

“My wife is a 1B, because she’s been in and out of hospital for the last 18 months several times because of a lung condition,” he said.

He said that he submitted the paperwork the next day, but was fired the following week in what he thought was a misunderstanding about why he took the vaccines off-site.

“My background is emergency medicine,” he said. “You do what you have to do to save that life no matter what.”

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg later announced charges against him for stealing nine vaccines, but a judge dismissed the case.

Gokal still maintains that he didn’t do anything wrong.

“As a doctor I can’t just accept that and walk away from what my heart tells me is the right thing to do,” Gokal said.

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