Good Samaritan Hospital Offers Teachers Vaccinations Earlier Than Expected, Sparking Controversy

NBC Universal, Inc.

Questions are being raised Friday about 67 teachers in a small South Bay school district who got their first shots of the coronavirus vaccine sooner than expected.

Teachers and support staff at Los Gatos Union School District got an unusual email from their superintendent earlier in the week.

Paul Johnson told his staff that Good Samaritan Hospital was able to schedule them for the coronavirus vaccine. All they had to do was follow a link on the hospital's website to sign up.

It was unusual because right now, Santa Clara County is still mostly only vaccinating seniors 75 and older, and teachers aren’t up for vaccinations yet.

In the email, the superintendent wrote, "They mentioned that our kindness last year was not forgotten and how much they appreciated it."

He was talking about the school district's "Feed Our Heroes" fundraiser they organized at the start of the pandemic last year. 

"Thus far this effort has raised over $60,000, and is providing thousands of meals to healthcare workers battling COVID-19 on the front lines,” said Johnson in a school video in May 2019.

In a written statement Friday, Johnson did not mention that fundraiser. He simply wrote he understood Good Samaritan Hospital had cleared the vaccines for the next tier, which includes teachers.

A spokesperson for Good Samaritan told NBC Bay Area that at some point earlier this week, staff at their coronavirus vaccine clinic noticed they had an excess of vaccine on one particular day, so they reached out to the school district to see if their teachers could get them.

Spokesperson Sarah Sherwood said on the day teachers got their shots, the hospital had 180 doses ready. But only 115 people had signed up. So, they invited educators at Los Gatos Union Schools to fill the slots.

"There was no preemptive planning on our part,” said Sherwood when asked why that particular school district. “We just wanted to make sure that the vaccine was being used, 

and that we didn't sit on vaccines, and that everybody that could get a vaccine could.”

The Santa Clara County Department of Health is looking into this to see if all protocols were followed.

"I believe teachers should be fairly high up on the priority list,” said Los Gatos resident Mark Richard. 

Another Los Gatos resident, Archna Haylock said, "For me, I think teachers are more important. I think my parents can stay at home, and have enough control to sequester themselves."

It’s worth noting that the district is not currently holding in-person classes.

Contact Us