Florida County Official Created VIP Vaccine List Restricted To Two Richest Zip Codes
A Florida county commissioner created a vaccine priority list limited only to herself and residents from the two richest zip codes in the area.
Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh has admitted to sending emails in which she directed officials to create a list that would allow selected ‘VIPs’ to jump the queue for receiving a coronavirus vaccine.
Baugh apologised for the backlash at a public county commissioner meeting yesterday, February 18, after news of the emails was reported by a local outlet.
The list was compiled as part of planning for a ‘pop-up’ vaccination site in the county, which was initiated by Governor Ron DeSantis and will be hosted by Florida’s Division of Emergency Management.
Baugh, who was in charge of organising the event, admitted that she ‘wanted to make sure certain people were on the list’ and had personally picked only residents of the two richest zip codes in the county to be permitted to jump the queue for the vaccine.
The move has been met with backlash from residents and county officials.
‘You’re taking the whitest demographic, the richest demographic in Manatee County and putting them ahead of everyone else,’ another Manatee county commissioner, Misty Servia, said.
While Baugh apologised for any criticism she had faced, she said if given the same opportunity ‘I [would] do exactly what I did this time’, adding that she ‘did exactly what [DeSantis] wanted’.
In one email that CNN obtained, the county’s Public Safety Director Jacob Saur wrote, ‘Commissioner Baugh has asked we pull a list of those in the vaccine waiting pool that have listed 34202 and 34211 as their residence,’ referring to the county’s richest zip codes.
‘It was my idea,’ Baugh said in another meeting on Wednesday, February 17.
‘I think instead of everyone seeming to have an issue, we need to realise it’s 3,000 people that are now going to be removed from our registry, which will open it up hopefully sooner to all of those that are left,’ she added.
In January, top county officials voted to create a more equal vaccine distribution system in the form of a lottery pool. Those eligible to be vaccinated would be entered and names would be drawn at random. Baugh was among those who voted in favour of this system.
In response to the controversy surrounding the pop-up during a press conference this week, DeSantis did not apologise for the list and instead threatened to remove the vaccine doses from the county altogether.
‘If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it. We’re totally happy to do that,’ he said.
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