Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, is under criticism for giving vaccine access preference to those who can afford it. The most recent controversy is a COVID-19 vaccine distribution agreement between DeSantis and Publix, a supermarket store corporation with a pharmaceutical subsidiary. Later it was found that contributions from Publix to a PAC backing DeSantis were a factor in the agreement. This implies that people with sufficient funds can cut in front of others to obtain urgently required immunizations, leaving vulnerable groups without them. According to reports, some of the people who jumped the queue were wealthy Hollywood moguls who had given money up until December 2020.
This arrangement not only delays vaccinations for many low-income people, but it also widens racial inequities already present. Black and Latinx residents dominate low-income communities throughout Florida, making them more prone than wealthy white people to lack basic necessities during this pandemic. Several low-income areas are almost 25 miles away from the closest Publix, making it challenging or impossible for those without dependable transportation to get the necessary vaccinations.
Unfair vaccine distribution is just one sign of what appears to be outright criminality coming from Ron DeSantis’ administration. 3,000 immunizations were provided in February 2021 as a result of a $135,000 donation from local developer Pat Neal. Moreover, Governor Desantis has resisted disclosing information on who has received vaccine priority based on their links to or donations from political parties. Suspicions of vaccine fraud and carelessness towards Florida’s most vulnerable citizens during this epidemic are further strengthened by this lack of transparency.
Governor Desantis must be held responsible for his actions—or lack thereof—during this crisis as Floridians wait for the state government to put fairness before financial interests. He must ensure that all Floridians, regardless of their socioeconomic status or race, have access to essential resources like testing facilities and vaccines and rebuild public trust by being open and honest about all the data pertaining to these initiatives. While this pandemic is ongoing, his crooked dealings will keep underprivileged people in the dark.