DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — We told you last night two pharmacists were fired from Decatur Memorial Hospital. One took vaccines home to her family.
“It probably wasn’t the best thing to do, but I don’t fault them for what they did,” explained Dick’s Pharmacy pharmacist Cindi Reed. She said the pharmacist’s actions are not surprising.
“The vaccine rollout has not been ideal, and it has taken much longer than we anticipated,” Reed said.
The pharmacist’s family members weren’t eligible for the vaccine yet.
A spokesperson for the hospital says the pharmacist used pooling to do this, so she did not take any doses away from the public. Pooling is basically combining what’s left in two vials after the vaccine is administered to create new doses.
“I know there’s been some recent news and some suggestions from those in the pharmacy profession to encourage the pooling of vaccines, but the FDA’a current stance is that does not occur for the COVID-19 vaccines,” explained Illinois Pharmacists Association Executive Director Garth Reynolds. He says pooling could change how effective a vaccine is.
“If you’re pooling doses together from multiple viles or residuals from multiple viles, you could be getting more dilutant and not as much of the vaccine,” Reynolds explained.
A spokesperson for Decatur Memorial hospital said they investigated what happened, and determined there was “no issue of safety or loss of efficacy with the vaccinations”.
But pharmacists do have to follow a certain code of ethics, and this violated that.
“We do have to take the higher standard of practice when it comes to what we have promised ourselves and have promised our patients when we deliver care in our community,” said Reynolds.
State public health is working with the hospital to make sure they’re following all protocols.
We also asked about the risk of these pharmacists losing their licenses. Reynolds explained that the Illinois Board of Pharmacy to review what happened and make a decision to take licenses away, but there’s no guarantee they will.
We mentioned a second pharmacist was fired. We asked the hospital spokesperson about why and how they were involved, but they were not able to answer that question, citing that they cannot comment on personnel issues.