DA: Doctor Stole Vial of COVID Vaccine for Personal Use

Texas health officials say Dr. Hasan Gokal gave doses to friends, family
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2021 7:04 AM CST
DA: Doctor Swiped COVID Vaccine to Give to Family
Dr. Hasan Gokal.   (Harris County Public Health, via CNN)

Plenty of people want to make sure their loved ones get vaccinated against COVID-19, but one Texas doctor may have gone too far. The Dallas Morning News reports that 48-year-old Dr. Hasan Gokal is now out of a job and facing criminal charges after he allegedly swiped a vial of the coronavirus vaccine, containing nine doses, to administer to family and friends. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg says Gokal took the vial on Dec. 29 while administering shots for the county in Humble; he then told a colleague about it, who informed health officials. After an investigation, Gokal was fired. "He abused his position to place his friends and family in line in front of people who had gone through the lawful process to be there," Ogg says.

Gokal's lawyer is pushing back, claiming his client was simply trying to make sure unused doses didn't have to be trashed. "Harris County would have preferred Dr. Gokal let the vaccines go to waste and are attempting to disparage this man's reputation," the attorney says in a statement, per the Morning News. Authorities, however, say Gokal flouted county protocols that should've had him contacting front-line workers and others more vulnerable to the virus who were on a waiting list, per CNN. Gokal, who has been in practice for more than two decades and never been disciplined by Texas' medical regulatory agency, had of late been a prominent spokesperson on the pandemic for the county's health department, reports KTRK. Gokal, who hasn't yet been arrested, could see a $4,000 fine and up to a year behind bars if he's convicted of the misdemeanor charge. (More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.