VIPs skip vaccine lines in Seattle, hospitals face discipline

Washington state warned hospitals that “inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices are banned and will not be tolerated.”

By Associated Press

Authorities in Washington state are warning hospitals and other facilities giving coronavirus vaccinations not to give special access to some people, saying they will risk having their supplies of doses cut.

The state Health Department said in a statement Monday that “VIP scheduling, reserving doses for inequitable or exclusive access, and similar practices are banned and will not be tolerated.”

The Seattle Times has reported that three medical systems in the region gave special vaccine access to big donors or foundation members. Two of the hospital organizations acknowledged they made a mistake in prioritizing influential people.

The Health Department’s announcement says that if a vaccine provider is found to be giving out shots in an inequitable manner “we may reduce or stop allocations to that provider.”

Elsewhere in the U.S., Massachusetts passed 500,000 coronavirus cases for the pandemic even as other statistics appear to show a continued easing following a post-holiday spike.

The state crossed that mark Monday, exactly a year after officials reported the first case of a coronavirus infection in Massachusetts. It involved a Boston resident who had traveled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first cases of COVID-19 were identified.

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The number of newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts rose by 30 on Monday, pushing the state’s confirmed death toll to 14,317 since the start of the pandemic.

The number of newly confirmed cases of coronavirus infections increased by more than 2,200.