Wealthy donors were given vaccine priority through a Florida nursing home: report

Wealthy donors were given vaccine priority through a Florida nursing home: report
Wisconsin pharmacist ruined 500 COVID-19 vaccine doses because he wrongly believed they could alter DNA: prosecutor

Wealthy donors were given COVID-19 vaccine priority through an affluent nursing home in Florida, according to a new report published by The Washington Post.

It has been reported that Keith Myers, chief executive of MorseLife Health System described as a "high-end nursing home and assisted-living facility in West Palm Beach, Fla." personally called a number of wealthy donors and members of the facility's board to offer them the vaccine.

Ryna Greenbaum, 89, recalled her conversation with Myers when he reached out to her. "He asked me if I wanted to have a vaccine," Greenbaum said, adding, "I'm one of the people who has given him some money."

According to the report, multiple people who were offered the vaccine have spoken out about their experience. The publication reports: "MorseLife has made scarce coronavirus vaccines — provided through a federal program intended for residents and staff of long-term-care facilities — available not just to its residents but to board members and those who made generous donations to the facility, including members of the Palm Beach Country Club."

At this point, there is currently no information to determine how many donors were offered the vaccine or how many non-donors have actually been vaccinated. However, the arrangement itself is being criticized from an ethical standpoint as it "may have violated national immunization guidelines, as well as state protocols."

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) opted not to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommended guidelines for vaccine distribution, shedding light on "how the country's patchwork approach to immunization against the coronavirus — leaving decisions about eligibility to state and local authorities as well as to individual providers — is creating opportunities for facilities to provide access to well-connected people while thousands of others wait in line."

Florida State Rep. Omari Hardy (D) expressed concerns about MorseLife's approach as he noted that the facility appears to be "selling access to this vaccine." Despite the woman's age which would put her in the high-priority category for vaccination, Hardy argued that the process MorseLife has used alienates many Americans, namely those who don't "know many powerful people, who doesn't have a lot of money, and she's asking me how she can get access."

"And I don't know what to tell her," Hardy said. "So if MorseLife is giving this vaccine away to the well-connected, they need to be held accountable for that."

David Grabowski, a Harvard Medical School professor who specializes in nursing home research, also expressed similar concerns about the nursing home's affluent rollout.

"That certainly sounds inconsistent with what CDC and other administration officials had in mind for prioritizing residents and caregivers of nursing homes," he said. "There's a reason nursing home residents were prioritized" over the general population of seniors, "based on their physical and cognitive impairments."

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