In January this year, Indian-American Dr. Hasan Gokal was fired from Harris County Public Health (HPCH) after being accused of stealing a vial of vaccine and administering the doses offsite to friends and family. But in a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Dr. Gokal disputed almost all of the facts surrounding his case and said he was fired because he gave the vaccine to too many people of South Asian descent, only one of whom — his wife — was actually related to him.
The lawsuit states that HPCH proceeded to fire Dr. Gokal by insinuating that he did not ‘equitably’ distribute the vaccine and gave the vaccine to too many individuals with ‘Indian’ sounding names.
As per Houston Public Media, Dr. Gokal had initially attempted to give the doses to hospital staff. But after his offer was rejected, he began going through names on his cell phone.
A Harris County criminal court judge had first dismissed the case against Gokal in January. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg had then presented the case to a grand jury, which declined to indict the doctor in June.
Dr. Gokal’s firing came during a time when the vaccine was much harder to come by. In the first few months of its rollout, only people 65 and older, people with underlying health conditions, and frontline health care workers were authorized to receive doses.
The central argument in HCPH’s decision to fire Dr. Gokal was that he broke protocols in providing the vaccines offsite rather than going to an established waitlist. But according to emails attached to the complaint from the DA’s office, there were no protocols in place at the time of the firing. Ogg’s office also said it was not provided with proof of a written waitlist in January.
Dr. Gokal has maintained that he was simply following guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when he took the vial offsite on December 29th. According to the doctor, the vaccines were set to expire. Rather than throw them out, Gokal said he decided to put them to use.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.