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Bay Area counties halt COVID vaccine access to One Medical

A healthcare worker vaccinates a man.
Victor Villegas, 78, receives a COVID-19 vaccine in the Mission district of San Francisco.
(Haven Daley / Associated Press)

San Francisco and San Mateo counties have stopped supplying COVID-19 vaccine to a healthcare provider that allegedly inoculated ineligible people.

On Monday, the San Francisco Department of Public Health directed the provider, One Medical, to return about 1,620 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

In San Francisco, One Medical was supposed to inoculate healthcare workers as defined in the state vaccination program’s Phase 1A, including in-home caretakers and dentists and doctors not affiliated with a large healthcare provider.

But One Medical provided a report Feb. 17 showing that it gave “a number of doses” to people whose status as healthcare workers could not be verified, the department said in a statement.

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San Mateo public health officials said in a statement that “the issues with One Medical were disappointing but are not representative of the county’s robust and successful vaccination efforts.”

One Medical is based in San Francisco and has locations across the U.S., including several in Los Angeles. It charges patients an annual membership fee of $199 and advertises itself as a healthcare provider that practices “medicine the way it should be practiced, focusing on improving the patient experience and challenging the healthcare status quo” and touts among its benefits “longer, non-rushed appointments.”

Dr. Andrew Diamond, One Medical’s chief medical officer, said the company did not knowingly vaccinate anyone who did not qualify.

“We have absolutely not, under any circumstances, knowingly vaccinated anyone who does not meet criteria per the departments of health that we’ve been working with,” Diamond said Thursday.

He added, “That is not to say that bad actors can’t get away with doing bad things.”

Two employees of One Medical were terminated for “inappropriate use of a vaccine,” Diamond said, declining to provide details.

According to a statement from One Medical, 96% of people vaccinated by the company had documentation proving their eligibility, while 4% were vaccinated to avoid wasting doses.

The statement said the company routinely turns away people who lack the necessary documentation.

In San Mateo County, education officials reported that One Medical had vaccinated people before they were eligible under the state and county’s tiered system.

Public health officials decided to sever ties with One Medical after an investigation revealed that the company had vaccinated 70 ineligible people.

Diamond called the situation “one of the most unfortunate things that’s happened in our experience with vaccine allocation or administration.”

He said some teachers had been informed by a school superintendent that they were eligible and received the shot after showing an email from the superintendent.

Diamond said the company apologized to county officials for the error. The teachers “came to us in good faith, and we did the vaccination in good faith,” he said.

He said he believes San Francisco’s decision to recall doses was not punitive but was intended to redistribute the vaccine in neighborhoods where One Medical does not have offices.

One Medical was left with enough vaccine to give second doses to each recipient, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

County officials asked for the unused doses to be returned because of the issues with recipients who were not verified healthcare workers, the department said in a statement.

The unused doses “will be redistributed to other providers that can direct doses to prioritized populations based on health equity considerations,” the statement said.

In Los Angeles County, public health officials received a complaint at the end of January that One Medical had vaccinated someone who was not a healthcare worker.

Officials warned the company that it would not receive more vaccine if it did not adhere to county guidelines, the county Public Health Department said in a statement.

The county has not received additional complaints about One Medical, the statement said.

In Santa Clara County, vaccine doses were provided to about 300 One Medical healthcare workers, and there was no intention to allocate more, officials said in a statement.

Times staff writer Kevin Rector contributed to this report.


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