Several prominent and wealthy Florida donors to a high-end nursing home were reportedly invited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine intended for its residents.
According to reporters from The Washington Post, the invite came by phone and in writing to members of the board and major donors, directly from Keith Myers, chief executive of MorseLife Health System, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“He asked me if I wanted to have a vaccine,” Ryna Greenbaum, 89, told the Post. “I’m one of the people who has given him some money.”
According to AARP, Florida prioritizes long-term care residents and frontline health care workers in its first wave of vaccine distribution.
More than 260,000 Floridians have been vaccinated as of Jan. 4. Although production and shipping issues have slowed the vaccines’ rollout, the state is working through its allocation of vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna — both of which received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December.
The Post reports that elderly people in Florida have been camping out overnight in lines waiting to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking anonymously, a top health personnel in Palm Beach County told the Post that the vaccinations of nonresidents at MorseLife were not authorized. The recipients of his Myers’ offer appear to include long-term donors to the facility with contributions as large as $75,000.
Congressman Omari Hardy, who represents the area of West Palm Beach that includes MorseLife, said the facility appeared to be “selling access to this vaccine.”
Hardy added that despite the fact that many of those who received the shot were within the eligible age range, they seem to be availing themselves of something that they shouldn’t be getting.