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Bellevue's Overlake Medical Center apologizes for prioritizing eligible donors for COVID-19 vaccine

The hospital emailed staff, eligible patients and donors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on short notice, in case appointments became available.

Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue is apologizing for how it handled its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, by prioritizing eligible donors and "by not adopting a broader outreach strategy."

On Jan. 22, the hospital said it emailed nearly everyone on file to fill unclaimed vaccination slots on short notice.  

Overlake said "proactive communications were sent to those for whom we had email addresses, including all of our 3,300 employees, patients aged 65 and above, groups of retired nurses and physicians and our volunteer and donor communities.  All of those individuals were sent a communication with a separate scheduling link due to various limitations of our schedule system.”

During his news conference Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Jay Inlsee expressed his disdain for Overlake's actions. 

“And if, in fact, they were giving preference to some VIP list, that was not a way to do it,” Inslee said. “It’s not acceptable for us. We need to get everybody a fair shot at the vaccine. If that’s what was happening, it simply wasn’t acceptable. We need fairness from the system and we have to maintain public credibility in the system.” 

On Wednesday, Overlake apologized for giving priority to eligible donors. Their statement said, in part, "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."

RELATED: Inslee questions fairness of COVID-19 vaccine distribution at Bellevue's Overlake Medical Center

Read Overlake Medical Center's full statement here:   

"As part of our mission to provide compassionate care for every life we
touch, Overlake is committed to keeping our community healthy, including
safely and efficiently vaccinating as many eligible members of our
community as possible. This requires strict adherence to all guidelines
set by the Washington State Department of Health for Phase 1A and 1B1. It
also means working to reach as many eligible people as we can.

There have been logistical challenges for hospital systems to meet the
demands to successfully schedule vaccinations and administer vaccine
supply received. Despite these challenges, we have administered 11,000
vaccines to date, and will soon administer vaccines for over 40,000
community members who have upcoming appointments scheduled through our online system.

Recently, in an effort to notify people of additional, immediate-term
vaccine appointments that had become available, we sent emails to
approximately 4,000 members of the Overlake community, including
volunteers, retired nurses and physicians, all employees and about 100
donors from our Foundation database. All communications made clear that
people must show proof of eligibility under current Washington State
requirements to ultimately be vaccinated, no matter who they are or how
they are affiliated with us.

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. Our intent and commitment has always been to administer
every vaccine made available to us safely, appropriately, and efficiently.

Today, and throughout this pandemic, Overlake is intently focused on
serving our community, including moving forward on larger scale
community-based vaccination programs. Additional vaccine allotments from
the state will boost this effort as well. No matter what, our goal remains
the same: deliver vaccines to eligible community members as quickly as

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