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‘Don’t criminalize a physician’: Doctor prosecutors accused of stealing vaccines tells his side of the story

SUGAR LAND, Texas – It takes only seconds for Dr. Hasan Gokal to recall the last COVID-19 vaccine he administered.

“Yeah, the last vaccine was to my wife,” Gokal said.

Gokal sat down with KPRC 2 Investigates reporter Mario Diaz on Tuesday for a lengthy interview about the chain of events that started at a Harris County vaccination site on Dec. 29.

“Don’t criminalize a physician for making a judgment based on their training,” said Gokal.

The 48-year-old is referencing the potential criminal case he is facing, admitting that he was uncertain as to why he is in this position in the first place.

“I’m not sure, Mario, what I did wrong that someone can tell me,” Gokal said.

The accusations that Gokal stole coronavirus vaccine has generated global headlines. He claims the vaccines were going to expire, but instead they ended up in arms connected to him.

“‘I’ve got a few of these left,’” Gokal said he explained to a colleague. “‘I’m going to try and find people to give them to,’ and his response was, ‘OK.’”

Gokal said that with that colleague’s permission and time expiring on an open vial with 10 doses left, a search for arms was underway. He started making calls and with no takers, he ultimately ended up back home in Sugar Land.

“What are my choices?” Gokal said. “What am I going to do? The only other choice I have is to watch that those doses go into the garbage. Given that choice, how can I say I did the wrong thing?”

According to Gokal, the state had suggested what to do with extra vaccines a week earlier.

“‘Hey guys, if you get leftover with any vaccines, give it, find anybody to give it to whether they are registered or not,” Gokal said regarding the guidance he was given.

Of the 10 vaccines administered, Gokal’s wife was the lone relative. He also said all of the people to whom he gave shots fell under the state’s tier 1B, which wasn’t in effect at the time.

Gokal’s interview comes a day after the county’s own desperate dash on Monday, where 5,400 vaccines were allowed to go to anyone, including students at Rice University. Gokal admits there are parallels.

“The urgency, the need to get it out, the need to not let anything waste,” said Gokal.

Last month a judge dropped a misdemeanor theft charge against Gokal, but Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has said she still plans on presenting the case to a grand jury.

“Frankly, I don’t like to think about it because I just want to get back to doing what I was doing,” said Gokal.


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