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Gov. Ron DeSantis is under fire for giving special vaccine access to wealthy Florida neighborhoods

Gov Ron DeSantis has recently come under fire for giving special vaccine access to two wealthy neighborhoods in Florida

According to WFLA, the Florida Division of Emergency Management opened a vaccine clinic in Lakewood Ranch on Wednesday.

The site is located at the Premier Sports Campus and is only for residents living in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes. 

Manatee County Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh told the station that the opportunity ‘was made possible by Governor DeSantis’ who she says called Schroeder-Manatee Ranch President, Rex Jensen, ‘wanting to do a vaccination site near Lakewood Ranch’.

Gov Ron DeSantis (center) has recently come under fire for reportedly giving special vaccine access to two wealthy neighborhoods in Florida

The site is located at the Premier Sports Campus and is only for residents living in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes. A man gets the coronavirus vaccine at the Lakewood Ranch site on Wednesday

The site is located at the Premier Sports Campus and is only for residents living in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes. A man gets the coronavirus vaccine at the Lakewood Ranch site on Wednesday 

The average household income in the 34202 zip code is $136,423. In the 34211 zip code, the average household income is $132,357. A member of the Florida National Guard directs people waiting in line for the vaccine at the Lakewood Ranch site on Wednesday

The average household income in the 34202 zip code is $136,423. In the 34211 zip code, the average household income is $132,357. A member of the Florida National Guard directs people waiting in line for the vaccine at the Lakewood Ranch site on Wednesday 

In a separate interview with WTSP, Baugh said that she chose to give the 3,000 appointments to those who live in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes instead of randomly through the county’s vaccine lottery.

‘It has nothing to do with Manatee County Commission. This was strictly by Mr. Jensen, the governor with my help,’ Baugh said. 

Those 3,000 residents started receiving the first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday. 

The dose will continued to be administered in the area on Thursday and Friday. The patients will then be scheduled for their second dose when they get their first shot.

According to state data, Lakewood Ranch is one of the richest neighborhoods in Florida.

The average household income in the 34202 zip code is $136,423 with the average home is valued at $527,889. 

In the 34211 zip code, the average household income is $132,357 and the average home is valued at $425,013. 

One Florida resident told WFLA: ‘I am outraged that Governor DeSantis has given a special allocation of virus vaccines to residents of Lakewood Ranch. Why should they be put ahead of people of color and other marginalized residents of Sarasota County?’

So far, Florida has administered more than 3.6 million vaccines. More than 1.1 million have received both doses

So far, Florida has administered more than 3.6 million vaccines. More than 1.1 million have received both doses

This isn't the first time DeSantis has come under fire for vaccine access. Earlier this month Tampa Bay leaders called for better vaccine outreach to the black community. About 134,000 black people have been vaccinated in Florida compared to 1.6 million white people (depicted)

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has come under fire for vaccine access. Earlier this month Tampa Bay leaders called for better vaccine outreach to the black community. About 134,000 black people have been vaccinated in Florida compared to 1.6 million white people (depicted)

Another said: ‘So we punish those people who give out leftover vaccine [sic], so it doesn’t get wasted, but all the rich people have to do flash their money in DeSantis face, and they go right to the front of the line?’

In response to the criticism, DeSantis said during a press conference that ‘there was no choice to pick certain zip codes’.

He claimed: ‘We wanted to find communities that have high levels of seniors living in there, and this obviously has a high concentration. You look at all these different communities, and there is a lot of senior citizens. If there were few senior citizens, then you wouldn’t have set up a pod here.’ 

DeSantis then said that ‘if Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it’.

‘And we’re totally happy to do that. So anyone that is saying that [there is a problem], let us know. If you want us to send it to Sarasota next time, or Charlotte, or Pasco, or wherever, let us know. We’re happy to do it,’ he continued. 

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has come under fire for giving special vaccine access to Florida’s wealthy residents. 

Earlier this month Tampa Bay church leaders called for better vaccine outreach to communities of color, referencing state data that showed that more than 85,000 black people had been vaccinated compared to 1.1 million white people.   

Rev Dr Wayne Thompson from First Institutional Baptist Church in St Pete told WFLA at the time: ‘We know we are not asking to get in front of anyone. We just want to have our fair share our equal access to it and get our people vaccinated.’

As of Wednesday, those numbers are a bit higher, but still disproportionate.

More than 134,000 black people have been vaccinated in Florida compared to 1.6 million white people.     

So far, Florida has administered more than 3.6 million vaccines. More than 1.1 million have received both doses. 

In the US, more than 40.2 million first doses have been administered. Just over 15.4 million Americans have received both doses of the vaccine so far. 


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