Vaccine Inequality


By Eunho Jung, Assistant Junior Editor

In the midst of this devastating pandemic, it is startlingly clear that the working-class citizens of America are suffering the most, and within the working-class: minority groups. 

Ever since the world went into lockdown last March, there were millions of layoffs and job losses. Although provided as a temporary solution, stimulus checks simply were not enough to sustain a family, or even a person, in this current world. Americans have been extremely suffering this past year. With no signs of immediate relief, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

However, on December 11, 2020, the FDA issued the first emergency use of the Pzifer vaccine. Things were slowly starting to look up, and fear was slowly diminishing. From the very start of the vaccine rollout, the CDC made it firmly clear who was first to receive the vaccine. The CDC’s vaccine rollout recommendations explicitly state that the group that should receive the vaccine first is group 1A, which includes healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. Following, group 1B, which consists of frontline essential workers and people aged 75 years and older. 

Given the firm rules set in place, how is it possible that celebrities and millionaires seem to have already received the vaccine? It should be an obvious answer. If you have money, and a lot of it, it is not that hard to find a dose or two. And that seems to be what is currently going on.

Dr. Edward Goldberg, a concierge doctor in New York City, explained that his patients have greatly sought after the vaccine. “I’m getting a lot of phone calls from people like, ‘You’re a concierge doctor. I will join you if you will come to my home and give me a COVID vaccine.'” Similarly, Dr. Ehsan Ali, a Beverly Hills doctor, has revealed that he has heard whispers of people receiving the vaccine through hospital or government connections. And those whispers are very true.

Just recently, a SOULCYCLE instructor, Stacey Griffith, received the vaccine under the title “Educator.” She made no effort to hide her sleazy actions. After an incredible amount of (well-deserved) backlash, she posted a statement on Instagram: “I made a terrible error in judgment and for that I am truly sorry.” SOULCYCLE, a nationwide cycling gym catering to the upper-class and celebrities, sells a single cycling class for 20 dollars. Griffith, based in New York City, filled out all of her paperwork and made the drive to Staten Island to receive her vaccine. She also took to Instagram to show her excitement, posting a (now deleted) video of the vaccine being administered. “One hour drive to STATEN ISLAND worth every minute!” she wrote in her caption. 

However, SOULCYCLE instructors are not the only people using their wealth to their advantage. In late January, a Canadian couple traveled to Beaver Creek, a remote town in the Yukon Territory, and posed as local motel employees to receive the vaccine. The Yukon Territory is inhabited by indigenous tribes, who are one of the groups that are receiving the vaccine first. Rodney and Ekaterina Baker flew into the town on their private jet to steal vaccines from a group that is disproportionately affected by this pandemic. The town of Beaver Creek only has a population of 100 people with mainly an older demographic which is specifically why this town was prioritized to receive the vaccine first. Yet, the couple was not punished for receiving the vaccine under false pretenses, but rather, for their failure to quarantine after returning from their escapade. They are only facing fines of up to $1,000 for failing to isolate, a simple slap on the wrist. 

In a healthcare system that is driven by profit, this is certainly not a surprise. While some Americans are struggling to feed their families an adequate meal, others are skiing in Aspen, sunbathing in France, and traveling all over the world. Teachers, doctors, and healthcare workers cannot see their loved ones without fear of transmitting COVID-19, while the upper-class continue to live lavishly. This is not a direct criticism of their lifestyle, but it is ironic how they expect things to work in their favor, especially with the vaccine. 

Junior Arnav Garg at Wayne Hills expressed his anger towards the situation. “I personally think that members of higher socioeconomic status who take advantage of their wealth are doing so unethically and without careful consideration” he argued, “I further believe that these individuals should rather utilize their money and resources towards accelerating the vaccine distribution process and comply with their scheduled vaccinations.” 

Sarah Park, another junior at Wayne Hills, shared similar ideas. “This makes me super frustrated. People are taking advantage of their wealth to use it for their own health, meanwhile there are so many others suffering and fighting to save us from this pandemic… It is extremely selfish.”

Yet again, the wealthy benefit from the suffering of those below them.