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Washington hospital apologizes after offering donors vaccine signup

Last Friday, the Overlake Medical Center emailed 100 benefactors an invitation to register for a Covid-19 vaccination appointment.

A hospital in Washington apologized after offering 100 donors an invitation to register for a Covid-19 vaccination appointment.

Last Friday, the Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue said in an email to benefactors that the hospital was “pleased to share that we have 500 new open appointments in the Overlake COVID-19 vaccine clinic,” The Seattle Times first reported.

The facility provided donors with an access code to register for appointments “by invite” only, according to the newspaper.

Hospital officials told NBC News in a statement Friday that it did not exclusively offer the vaccine signup to the 100 donors. The hospital also extended an invite to 4,000 other community members, which included board members, volunteers, retired medical personnel, and current employees, the hospital said.

All who registered had to be eligible under the state’s Covid-19 vaccine policy, according to the hospital.

Currently, people over age 65 and those over 50 in multigenerational households are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in Washington, according to the state health department’s website.

A patchwork of state and local vaccine rollout plans has led to delayed doses, unfulfilled requests and last-minute allocations across the country.

The invitation drew the ire of Gov. Jay Inslee, who criticized the hospital’s actions during a press conference Tuesday.

“If, in fact, they were giving preference to some VIP list, that’s not the way to do it. That is not acceptable for us,” he said. “We need to give everybody a fair shot at the vaccine.”

The hospital acknowledged that it made a mistake.

“We recognize we made a mistake by including a subset of our donors and by not adopting a broader outreach strategy to fill these appointments, and we apologize,” the hospital said in a statement. “Our intent and commitment has always been to administer every vaccine made available to us safely, appropriately, and efficiently.”

The hospital added that it had administered 11,000 vaccines and was on track to administer another 40,000 to those who had upcoming appointments in its system.