A Texas Doctor Fired For Giving Out COVID Vaccines That Were About To Expire Is Suing The County

Hasan Gokal, a Texas doctor, made national headlines when he was fired from Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in January after he was accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccines and giving them to friends and family.
Gokal denied the allegations, saying he was fined for giving 10 doses of the Moderna vaccine from an already opened vial that was nearing expiration to patients at risk in his community.
A judge initially dismissed charges against him, and in June a grand jury ruled that no charges were brought against Gokal. The Texas Medical Board also dismissed a lawsuit against him in March.
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Gokal is now suing Harris County Public Health for more than $ 1 million in damages, claiming the agency discriminated against him because of his South Asian race and Pakistani ancestry.
"Dr. Gokal tried to save lives regardless of race, ”the lawsuit said, but the HCPH fired him for not“ fairly ”distributing the vaccine and“ giving the vaccine to many 'Indian' sounding risk patients ”.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that the HCPH provided misinformation to the prosecution and the Texas Medical Board to justify the dismissal of Gokal, who was shaken and emotionally disturbed. "
A spokesman for the HCPH declined to comment on the lawsuit. The public prosecutor's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Gokal told BuzzFeed News that he filed the lawsuit in hopes of revealing details of his side of the story and a "pattern" of discrimination to the health authority.
He said he was also concerned about the way the health department "addresses certain minorities" in his community and wanted to draw attention to it.
On December 29, Gokal, who at the time was serving as the HCPH's medical advisor for the COVID-19 vaccine launch, oversaw the county's first vaccine distribution event.
There were 10 doses of Moderna vaccine left in a vial that was being opened when the vaccination site closed for the night, and Gokal had six hours to administer the doses before they expired.
He asked various local employees, including two police officers, if they wanted to be vaccinated, but according to the complaint, all of them had either already received a vaccination or were refusing to be vaccinated.
After informing his manager that he would find people to vaccinate, Gokal called and recruited 10 people in his community who were at risk from underlying health conditions. Some patients came to him to get vaccinated, while he made house calls to vaccinate the others.
After a patient failed to make it on time and just minutes before the vaccine ran out, Gokal gave his wife - who has a lung disease - the last dose.
On January 7, HCPH officials fired Gokal after accusing him of stealing the vaccine and of failing to "fairly" distribute it.
"But what do you mean by 'just'?" Hasan told BuzzFeed News that he asked her during his resignation talk. "Are you saying there are too many Indian names in the group?"
“You said 'exactly,'” said Hassan.
Officials also told him he should have thrown the vaccines away instead, the lawsuit said.
Several weeks later, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg accused Gokal of theft by an officer, accusing him of stealing a vial containing a COVID-19 vaccine.
"He has abused his position to queue up his friends and family in front of people who had gone through the legal process to be there," Ogg said in a press release. "What he did was illegal and he will be held accountable by the law."
Gokal said that except for his wife, none of the other patients were his family members or friends. Some were acquaintances, neighbors or acquaintances of acquaintances, he said. They all happened to be South Asians because he lived in a predominantly South Asian community, Gokal said.
Ogg also accused Gokal of violating the county’s protocols to ensure vaccines were not wasted and were only given to eligible people on a “waiting list”.
At this point, however, according to the lawsuit, the HCPH had not drawn up its protocols or a written waiting list for the vaccine.
After a judge in the criminal court dismissed Gokal's case, the district attorney brought the case to a grand jury who also found no likely cause for charges against him.
The HCPH had also filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board to revoke Gokal's license, but the board dismissed the complaint, saying that Gokal administered doses to eligible patients "that would otherwise have been wasted."
The lawsuit states that Gokal is finding it difficult to find another job after the HCPH's "misinformation campaign" turned off potential employers.
"Imagine if I was a white doctor and went out and gave the vaccine to 10 white people. Do you think I had someone ask that you didn't do it justice because there were too many white people in your group?" '"Gokal told BuzzFeed News. "I just can't imagine that."

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