There are some things money can’t buy, and that should include early COVID-19 vaccinations.
But even though the vaccine is currently in limited supply and deaths are disproportionate among people based on age, race, or occupation, a new report from the Los Angeles Times shows that wealthy folks are more than happy to cut in line even if it comes at the expense of the more vulnerable.
“We get hundreds of calls every single day,” Dr. Ehsan Ali told the newspaper. Ali is a Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor whose clients include celebrities like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. “This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients.”
The Times reports Ali and other doctors are receiving offers of “tens of thousands of dollars in cash,” in addition to “making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line.”
The California government is mandating that the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine prioritize people like the elderly, immunocompromised, and healthcare workers. But with access to exclusive healthcare groups and money to blow on expensive “ultra-low temperature freezers,” there are ways the super rich are maneuvering around those guidelines.
“Their people are calling me literally every day,” one doctor told the Times. “They don’t want to wait. They want to know how they can get it more quickly.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom, however, warned Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley giants who may try to use their status and wealth to get vaccinated early.
“Those that think they can get ahead of the line and those that think because they have resources or they have relationships that will allow them to do it ... we also will be monitoring that very, very closely,” Newsom said.
Hopefully, doctors will fulfill their oath and prioritize those most at-risk. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be waiting on the next round of stimulus packages in $600 checks to survive until we get vaccinated next fall.