COLORADO SPRINGS — Before the clinic operator accused of mishandling thousands of COVID-19 vaccines declined to speak at a press conference concerning the allegations Monday, she did sit down with News 5's Spencer Humphrey, where she discussed her life and career, and responded to some, but not all, questions and concerns raised.
When News 5 sat down with Moma Monday morning, she told us she would respond to questions concerning the specific allegations raised by CDPHE at her press conference at 3 p.m. Monday. She did not.
But, who is 'Dr. Moma' anyway?
“I was born in Central Africa,” Moma said. “To be precise Cameroon.”
Sylvienash Moma came to the U.S when she was 13 years old. She says she put herself through several rounds of college, with her eye on one goal.
“Dr. Moma’s Heath and wellness clinic is something I’ve always desired,” Moma said.
That goal became a reality when she opened the clinic back in October.
“This is what gives me the ability to serve my community,” she said. “Which is why we took on the things that we took on.”
Those things involved becoming a COVID-19 vaccine provider. By now, you know the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stopped her from giving out vaccines after they say an inspection revealed her clinic was not properly handling the vaccines.
“That being an ongoing investigation, there’s limitations as to what I can say right now,” Moma said. At the time of our interview Monday morning, Moma said she could not answer questions relating to the ongoing investigation because they would be addressed at the press conference later in the day.
Not only did she not provide these answers at the press conference, she did not even speak at the press conference.
But in her sit-down with News 5, she did have answers to some questions the community has been asking.
She addressed confusion over whether or not she is legally allowed to call herself a doctor.
“I’m a doctorate family nurse practitioner,“ Moma said. “And in the state of Colorado, the title ‘doctor’ is not exclusive to physicians.”
She says she has no plans to change that.
“That title is something that I earned, and I’m entitled to call myself that,” she said.
In a Facebook group recently, some patients who received the vaccine from her clinic questioned why their negative Google reviews of her clinic seemed to be mysteriously disappearing.
News 5 asked if she knew anything about the situation.
“Nope,” Moma said.
She said she’s remaining confident she’ll make it through to the other side of these allegations.
News 5 asked her, if given the opportunity to give out vaccines again, would she?
“Yes,” she said.“The people is my driving force.”
We also asked how she would expect people to trust her to give out vaccines again.
“Truthful and honesty,” she said.
It’s something she claimed she’d continue to do.
“What I do owe to people are the facts and the truth,” Moma said. “So they can make informed decisions, and that’s what I’m here for.”
But when a clinic spokesperson was asked to provide those facts at the press conference Monday, they declined, citing the ongoing investigation.
Dr. Moma scheduled that press conference at 3:00 p.m. Monday. She did not speak at the event but a "supporter" of hers did read a statement. However, few answers were provided. You can watch the brief press conference below.
- Friday, April 9 - The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) notified people it was temporarily pausing vaccinations at the Dr. Moma Clinic “as a result of irregularities in vaccine storage.” The department said inspectors “observed failure to comply with storage protocols" at the clinic inside the Satellite Hotel building off Academy and Airport.
- Tuesday, April 13 - CDPHE sent out another message, advising patients “the provider failed to provide proper documentation of temperature storage,” and anyone who got a vaccine there would need to get it again.
- Wednesday, April 14 - News 5 wanted to know, how did the clinic get vetted by the state in the first place, and how can people be assured this won’t happen elsewhere? CDPHE replied "Each provider goes through a formal enrollment process that is laid out by the CDC and CDPHE and the provider must demonstrate capacity to meet all COVID-19 Vaccine Program requirements prior to becoming an approved vaccine provider. Providers must certify by signature that they understand and will comply with the requirements laid out in the application."
- Thursday, April 15 - In an interview with News5's Elizabeth Watts, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said state health inspectors work full-time but they can’t be everywhere at once. “They, like others (other clinics), self-certified they were doing the techniques,” Polis said, “saying ‘we are doing proper storage’ and everything else. It turned out they weren’t and thankfully we caught that.”
- Friday, April 16 - CDPHE changes the website section "Requirements to enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider" to remove the mention of any interested provider must "participate in a compliance site visit conducted by CDPHE."
- Saturday, April 17 - Clinic patients come forward to News5 expressing concerns about the lack of information on next steps and any actions needed on their part. “We cross our fingers and we close our eyes and we make a leap of faith, and they didn’t reach their hand out, they let us fall into the canyon,” Susan Easterly said. The women who spoke with use really want to know if the vaccine is invalid due only to paperwork issues.
CDPHE recommendations for patients who were vaccinated at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic:
If you received one dose of Pfizer vaccine at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic, that dose is considered invalid and you should receive two additional doses of Pfizer vaccine according to the time frames below:
- Additional dose of Pfizer 21 days after initial invalid Pfizer dose was received at Dr. Moma, and
- Final dose of Pfizer 21 days after repeated valid dose
If you received one dose of Moderna vaccine at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic, that dose is considered invalid and you should receive two additional doses of Moderna vaccine according to the time frames below:
- Additional dose of Moderna 28 days after your initial invalid Moderna dose was received at Dr. Moma, and
- Final dose of Moderna 28 days after your repeated valid dose)
If you do not know which vaccine you received at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic, you should receive two additional doses of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine according to the time frames below:
- Additional dose of Moderna or Pfizer 28 days after your initial invalid mRNA dose was received at Dr. Moma, and
- Final dose of Moderna or Pfizer 28 days later (e.g., 28 days after your repeated valid dose)
Records show that most patients only received one dose at the site, but for people who received two doses at the Dr. Moma Health and Wellness Clinic the CDC and CDPHE recommends:
- If you received two doses of Pfizer vaccine at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic, those doses are considered invalid and you should receive one additional dose of Pfizer vaccine at least 21 days after your last COVID-19 dose.
- If you received two doses of Moderna vaccine at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic, those doses are considered invalid and you should receive one additional dose of Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after your last COVID-19 dose.
- If you do not know which vaccine you received at a Dr. Moma vaccination clinic, you should receive one additional dose of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least 28 days after your last COVID-19 dose.
Because of lack of clinical data, the CDC does not recommend people get more than three doses of any COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of validity.
On Friday, CDPHE suspended administration and distribution of all COVID-19 vaccines at the site as a result of potential irregularities in vaccine storage and handling. A CDPHE and CDC investigation identified substandard vaccine storage and handling, vaccine preparation, mass clinic operations and poor record-keeping practices.
CDPHE and the Colorado Joint Vaccine Task Force are also taking additional steps to ensure all providers are meeting storage and handling requirements, including
- Verifying temperature monitoring devices and offering approved devices, if needed
- Requiring temperature logs be submitted for providers who have received vaccine in the last 30 days
- Implementing compliance site visits to identify and address areas providers need additional follow-up, address education needs, ensure providers are receiving properly managed and viable vaccine and ensure vaccines are being distributed properly