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People are growing more and more desperate to get their hands on the COVID-19 vaccine amid the government’s sluggish rollout.
Beverly Hills-based Dr. Robert Huizenga—who has appeared on NBC’s show The Biggest Loser—told Variety that some members of the entertainment industry have offered him over $10,000 to be inoculated. “We’ve been offered bribes. We see people taking planes to every location. We’ve seen people try to transiently get into the healthcare profession or on staff at nursing homes, so they qualify for an early vaccine,” the celebrity doctor said.
He said that these celebrities are in a “fight for their lives. You can’t really blame them for pulling out all the stops. The state and the government have set up a system that is really horrendous.”
In a race to get the preventative treatment first, celebrities have been trying to secure the vaccine through private physicians and concierge services, methods that don’t break the law but are ethically frowned upon. It also highlights how much power and wealth can enable some to get ahead.
Music industry executive Irving Azoff was inoculated in mid-January when Los Angeles County expanded access to those 65 and older, rather than citizens over 75. However, vaccines for the younger age group were only available at testing sites like Dodgers Stadium and The Forum last Tuesday. Though sources told Variety that Azoff was helping people "in his sphere of influence" get the vaccine, he only confirmed that he had received it.
“I’m a 73-year-old cancer survivor. I recently had part of my intestine removed. Damn right I received the vaccine, and I’m glad I did. Everyone eligible should get vaccinated as soon as they can,” Azoff told Variety.
Just last week, the CDC’s new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that it may take a few months for the general public to receive the vaccine. “I don't think late February we're going to have the vaccine in every pharmacy in this country,” she said. “We're going to stick to that plan, but also want to be very cognizant of the fact that after 100 days, there are still a lot of Americans who need vaccine, so we have our pedal to the metal to make sure we can get as much vaccine out there.”
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