Margus Ulst, the hospital’s director and himself a member of the Tartu chapter of the Rotary club, made the offer for senior members to the club despite a strict national coronavirus vaccination plan.
Ulst does not deny making the offer, stating that just over 100 doses of the Pfizer / BioNTEch vaccine had arrived at their hospital in a first shipment. Some frontline health workers have already been vaccinated, he said.
Hospital Director: The coronavirus vaccine line was short
A surplus was created when the Pfizer vaccine in a vial was found to be good for six cases rather than the five originally, and Ulst planned to use this in combination with refusals from eligible recipients for Rotary club members, said he.
Ulst said, “The vaccination line at Valga Hospital was relatively short. There were many who refused, so there was a risk that some of the vaccine could be wasted.”
Ulst made his offer to Tõnu Loog, president of the Tartu chapter of the Rotary club, on Jan. 7, reports BNS.
Rotary Club Strikes Back Line Jumping Offer
“I wrote to the club president asking if something like this could be possible that at-risk club members could be vaccinated with the vaccine, which is going to be wasted,” he said, adding that there were about 10 leftover doses available, but Loog and the Rotary club refused to accept his offer.
“Of course there was an ethical conflict here, but the alternative would have been to leave the vaccines in bottles,” added Ulst, saying that all Valga Hospital staff had been vaccinated according to their wishes and the availability of the vaccines was known internally before contacting the Rotary club.
Others in the hospital received vaccinations at Tartu University Hospital, the parent facility of Valga Hospital, he said.
Ulst added that he learned his lesson from the episode, saying that while he acted with the best of intentions, he admitted that it didn’t look good on the outside.
Priit Perens, chairman of the board of directors of the University of Tartu hospital, says a newly launched internal investigation will determine the details of the incident.
Rotary International has 1.2 million members worldwide and aims to promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene, save mothers and children, support education, and promote the local economy, among other things, according to the organization’s website.
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