City cuts off vaccine supply to clinic after claiming it misallocated over 6k doses meant for CPS staff

Coronavirus

CHICAGO – A clinic on the North Side has had its vaccine supply shut off by the city after officials claimed it misallocated more than 6,000 doses meant for CPS staff.

The Chicago Department of Health has ceased vaccine distribution to Innovative Express Care, which is running a COVID-19 testing and vaccine site in the 1100 block of West Diversey.

Following an investigation, officials said the clinic entered a contract to vaccinate CPS employees. The health department said they gave vaccines to non-CPS staff members and knowingly misallocated more than 6,000 doses.

They went on to say vaccines allocated for second doses were used for first dose appointments instead.

“This is completely unacceptable behavior. We have already identified new providers to take over and administer vaccine for those scheduled to receive a dose through Innovative Express Care,” officials said.

CPS personnel with appointments on Wednesday will be rescheduled for the near future and notifications are in progress. CPS personnel with existing appointments on Thursday and thereafter will continue to be vaccinated at the same CPS high school site where they were originally scheduled.

IEC will not be doing any more first dose vaccinations, and people can visit Zocdoc to find available appointments. Anyone scheduled for a second dose appointment though the Innovative Express clinic will be vaccinated at a special clinic set up for them at Truman College.

The city said those residents are being contacted and provided the next steps for scheduling their appointment.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Innovative Express Care said they strongly disagree with the city’s decision.

“All vaccine doses that were not used by CPS at the end of each week went to another eligible patient for their first dose. We always ensured that there were enough allocations for additional doses for all CPS employees,” part of their statement reads.

This is the second medical facility to have its vaccine supply cut off after Loretto Hospital leadership was caught giving vaccines to those who were ineligible.

Read Innovative Express Care’s full statement below.

“We strongly disagree with the allegations made by the Chicago Department of Public Health
stating a misallocation of vaccines intended for CPS staff. Before today, we proudly operated four CPS vaccination sites and vaccinated over 6,000 CPS employees. One of the challenge of this effort was that many CPS employees were hesitant, fearful, and resistant to getting vaccinated. The CPS executive team and I were in weekly communication about how to increase the number of employees who were encouraged to get vaccinated.

As of last week, 100% of CPS staff members had been given an opportunity to be vaccinated
due to our capacity to effectively operate a vaccine distribution effort. CPS highlighted the news
of an effective partnership during a CPS event last week that celebrated the vaccination
distribution. In the official press release, CPS officials stated that approximately 30% of CPS
employees received vaccinations as of March 17, 2021.

Despite our best efforts, each week we had extra vaccines due to the slow uptake in CPS
employee demand. All vaccine doses that were not used by CPS at the end of each week went
to another eligible patient for their first dose. We always ensured that there were enough
vaccines for all CPS employees who sought one. We received vaccine allocations each week,
and our intention has always been to have a 100% utilization rate in order that every single
dose we received was put into the arm of a qualified patient that week. Clearly, we took this
commitment very seriously, which meant that seniors, frontline essential workers, and other
qualified patients received vaccines. We never departed from the commitment to CPS
employees, nor other qualified individuals. However, we understand now that CDPH officials
expected us to store the vaccines they allocated in order to provide second doses to CPS
employees. This is where the communication breakdown occurred. CDPH officials never made it
clear to us that we should be storing more than half of our weekly allotment of vaccines in a
freezer for people awaiting second doses. Rather, we aimed to get as many vaccines in eligible
patients’ arms, as quickly as possible.

The decision by CDPH officials today leaves us shocked, saddened, and frankly disappointed. To
be clear, Innovative Express Care has vaccinated eligible individuals in a phased approach as
dictated by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois since January. We have been learning
with other health providers along the way, always adhering to medical ethics. We have worked
with numerous community organizations to develop proactive scheduling for eligible individuals
who live in medically underserved Black and Brown communities. Our past history as recorded
in numerous media accounts and our patients’ own voices of appreciation on social media are
evidence towards our positive impact. Effective vaccine distribution should be modeled, not
penalized.

We have served the Chicago region since the start of this pandemic, and we will continue to do
so. We are deeply disappointed in the city’s decision to remove us as a vaccine provider.
Chicago needs more vaccination sites that are distributing their doses to eligible patients, not
fewer.”

Rahul Khare, president and founder of Innovative Express Care

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