So I figured out when I’m going to get my COVID-19 shot:
The 12th of Never.
Because while I’m in a higher-risk group (cancer survivor) I’m “only” 53 years old. And there are a whole lot of other people at even higher risk, and older, ahead of me in the endless queue.
So I — and, most likely, you — will just have to wait.
But it’s interesting to see some people don’t have to wait; they’re able to jump right to the head of the line.
Selma Verse, R.N., with Medical Reserve Corps, prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for a patient scheduled for the COVID-19 drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Florida Department of Health Martin County office in Stuart on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. The clinic was for people ages 65 and older, health care workers, and adults of any age with serious underlying medical conditions who were at risk for severe illness with COVID-19.
Last week TCPalm detailed how Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club managed to get ahold of some 270 Moderna vaccines, courtesy of Mobile Medical Associates, which provides “concierge” in-home medical services.
Mobile Medical is approved by the state to distribute the vaccine, and owner Laurie McCuen told TCPalm the firm already provides health care services to about 70 country club members/homeowners; 20 were home-bound patients, and 50 have mobility issues. The other 200 vaccines went to other club members age 65 and up.
It just made sense, McCuen said. Once a vial of vaccines is opened you’ve only got six hours to administer it; and since Mobile Medical already had so many at-risk patients in the community getting the shot, why not just take care of the rest?
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Why not indeed.
Piper’s Landing isn’t exactly the ritziest place on Earth; current listings show you can get a condo there for a mere $100,000. Of course, there is a $65,000 equity membership (refundable when you sell your home), a non-refundable $10,000 contribution to the homeowners’ association and dues starting at about $2,400 per month.
Now, let’s stipulate no one did anything wrong here. Mobile Medical has the state’s OK to distribute the vaccine; that gives the firm the right to obtain doses from the Florida Department of Health in Martin County.
Treasure Coast Urgent Care Center and the Kane Center also got their own supplies of the vaccine to dole out.
And if an outfit has the state’s approval to distribute the vaccine — and so long as the shots go to people 65 and older, long-term care facility residents and front-line health care workers, per Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order — the state has no authority over where and to whom they’re dispensed.
There’s your first clue that maybe we could have designed a more equitable system.
For in theory, everyone has an equal shot at the shot. But throughout the state — surprise, surprise — some are proving to be more equal than others.
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Earlier this month the Washington Post reported that MorseLife Health System, a high-end West Palm Beach nursing home and assisted living facility, was offering vaccines “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.”
Hey, maybe they’re “at-risk” — of, you know, shooting a five on a par-four.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel then followed up with a story on how the town of Palm Beach — “home to billionaires, CEOs and President Trump” — managed to secure its own supply of the vaccine to hand out to residents, the only municipality in Palm Beach County to do so.
Again, the town has done nothing “wrong”; in fact, its wealth allowed it to do everything right. It had the staff and expertise to complete “the lengthy and demanding application … which requires proof that the town could handle the administration of the vaccine,” as noted in the story.
And this demonstrates “the advantage of living in a wealthy town that can afford to offer such benefits to its residents,” reported the Sun-Sentinel.
Meanwhile, I got several emails last weekend asking — so how many vaccines have been distributed in Indiantown? Golden Gate? Fort Pierce?
In fact, experts say vaccine distribution ought to be following the virus; areas with the most community spread and the highest number of people at risk of dying should be first in line.
But here, Martin County Commissioner Stacey Heatherington — in her weekly newsletter/email to constituents — wrote the county “is partnering with our 55+ communities in an effort to facilitate the most efficient means to vaccinate” those 65 and older.
That’s great — but understand, some of those 55+ communities are among the wealthiest in the county.
All of this amounts to a lesson in how privilege works.
It’s kind of a microcosm of how our health care system works in general. If you have the resources, if you have the connections, if you have the people to do the legwork, you have the advantage. You go to the head of the line; you got there first because you could.
Meanwhile, the plebs who don’t have the resources or the connections must wait patiently. They have no other option.
This is how the world works. It’s nothing new. And while I don’t begrudge anyone in the at-risk category for trying to get vaccinated, the state might have foreseen this. Gov. DeSantis’s executive order might have prioritized at-risk communities as well as at-risk individuals.
Are we going to have an equitable distribution of this vaccine or not? That’s the question DeSantis and other state officials ought to be asking themselves.
And to be fair, some are. Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, tweeted last weekend: “Vaccine distribution must be equitable. We (at the Division of Emergency Management) will continue to make sure our minority communities have access to the vaccine.”
More of this, please.
Because right now in Florida, some people have a much better shot at getting the vaccine and getting on with their lives.
While the people who tend their gardens, serve their food and more just have to put their hopes on hold until the 12th of Never finally rolls around.
Gil Smart is a TCPalm columnist and a member of the Editorial Board. This column originally appeared at the TCPalm. Follow him on Twitter at @TCPalmGilSmart.
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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: In Florida, do wealthy seniors have better shot at COVID vaccine