A former Houston area health department doctor is accused of stealing nine doses of coronavirus vaccine from a damaged vial and giving it to friends and family members.
Dr. Hasan Gokal has been charged with theft by a public servant, which is a Class A Misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail, as well as a $4,000 fine if convicted, according to a news release from the Office of Harris County, Texas District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Gokal reportedly stole the vial containing nine doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while working at the Harris County Public Health vaccination site at Lyndsay Lyons Park in Humble, Texas on December 29, 2020. A fellow Harris County Public Health employee reported Gokal's alleged actions to supervisors a week later.
Gokal was fired for his reported involvement in the incident after an investigation by Harris County Public Health. Mishandling of the vaccine could result in a loss of government funding for Harris Country, the health departments reports.
Gokal is accused of disregarding country health protocols that have been implemented to ensure the vaccine is administered first to vulnerable individuals and front-line workers on a waiting list.
The Office of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the Office of County Attorney Christian Menefee contacted prosecutors in relation to the incident, according to the news release.
“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 said. “What he did was illegal and he’ll be held accountable under the law.”
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