The University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC) has a public relations disaster on its hands. It participated in a photo opportunity of the first coronavirus vaccines being administered to some nurses at the hospital on Tuesday. Now there are accusations that the nurse didn’t really get vaccinated at all.
The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at UMC Tuesday morning. The hospital chose five nurses to be vaccinated on camera. Officials spoke about the vaccines being the light at the end of the tunnel and then the vaccines were administered to the nurses. UMC is the first hospital in the region to get the vaccine. It received 2,925 doses. Like many hospitals, health care workers were the first to be vaccinated.
The first El Pasoan to receive the vaccine was 29-year-old Crystal Molina, a native of the city. She works in the emergency department. It appeared to go smoothly. Molina said “it wasn’t that bad.”
I was excited, I was nervous, a little bit of both, more excited,” she said. “It wasn’t necessarily scary. He was really light-handed so it wasn’t that bad, but I felt excitement.
“It’s been hard on all of us, physically, emotionally, mentally and every effort you put in, it’s been hard. But our team has kept up, we’ve been troopers so we’re just going to keep tagging on until, hopefully, if the numbers decrease,” she said.
The second nurse was vaccinated and this time, a photojournalist noticed something that didn’t look right. It appears the syringe was empty, the video shows the plunger on the syringe was already depressed.
You see the nurse is being prepped for the vaccine, but the syringe appears to be empty and the plunger has already been depressed.
Once the needle appears to go into his arm, the person giving the vaccine does not appear to push the plunger down.
It’s unclear if the nurse was vaccinated or why the syringe appears to have already been depressed.
The issue appears to only have applied to the second nurse.
I’ve looked at the video several times and that is what it looks like to me. The nurse didn’t say anything and got up and walked away when it was over.
After questions were asked, UMC issued a statement on Wednesday.
“After numerous reports emerged on social media claiming one of the five nurses receiving a vaccination on Tuesday did not receive a full dose of vaccine, we want to remove any doubt raised that he was not fully vaccinated and further strengthen confidence in the vaccination process.”
“The nurse in question today was vaccinated again. UMC has confirmed with the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that re-vaccinating the nurse will not cause adverse effects. The nurse will need to return after three weeks to receive his second dose.”
One report describes the incident as “a mishap” but clearly, if true, it’s a mistake, not a mishap. A mishap is a soft way of saying that someone made a mistake, in this case a potentially serious mistake. If the photojournalist had not caught it so clearly on camera would anything have been done to correct the mistake? Would the nurse be walking around, treating patients, thinking he was vaccinated but not? The hospital must know it made a mistake because a second vaccination was administered.
Three tents were put up outside UMC. That is where the hospital staff will be vaccinated. Other hospitals in the area were scheduled to receive vaccines by the end of the week. Health care workers are the top priority, then high-risk people in phase one.
Phase one runs through February of next year, with the vaccine going directly to healthcare workers.
Phase two will run from February through July. This will include high-risk people who are not yet vaccinated in phase one, like El Pasoans with serious health issues.
By July, Mora said most of the public should be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
There are currently 161 local providers enrolled to give the vaccine.
This is a different video. The speed is slow motion in one frame to see the process up close, more clearly.
You can see the nurse administrating the vaccine kind of fiddling around with the syringe. Also, the needle didn’t go straight in and then out. It wasn’t a smooth jab at all.
UPDATE: (From Jazz)
I’m going to partially disagree with Karen’s take on this. I absolutely refuse to believe that this was a “mistake” of any sort on the part of the hospital. How incompetent would a medical professional have to be to take an obviously empty syringe with the plunger pushed all the way down and jab it into someone’s arm? If that’s the case, that person shouldn’t be working on patients. I wrote earlier this week about how two-thirds of the nurses in Southern California are refusing the vaccine. Could the second nurse in this video have similarly objected? But if so, why force him to go in front of the media and try to fake getting a vaccination? Surely that hospital has hundreds of nurses and they could have found someone else. Something isn’t right here and their “explanation” as to what happened and how the nurse was “vaccinated again” the following day doesn’t hold water. Or maybe I’m just paranoid.