Florida county commissioner manipulated vaccine list to include herself and wealthy zip codes

A commissioner who provided special “VIP” access to coronavirus vaccines at a state-run site in Manatee County apologised.

Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh had worked with the governor’s office to set up a pop-up vaccination site for residents in the 34202 and 34211 zip codes, two of Manatee County’s wealthiest areas.

Normally, Manatee County’s wait list program randomly selects residents to sign up for a vaccine, but according public records, Baugh’s staff manipulated the database to pull only residents from those two zip codes.

Emails showed Baugh created a “VIP” list for the vaccine, and asked Public Safety Director Jacob Saur to ensure she and four others could get vaccinated at the clinic.

According to reports, Baugh did not receive a vaccine, but three people on her list said they were called to schedule an appointment.

“I want to apologize to all the residents I have disappointed, according to some news outlets,” Baugh said at Thursday’s public meeting.

“It is true that I sent the email because I wanted to make sure certain people were on the list.”

Baugh said that the vaccine drive was initiated by Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and involved real estate developer Rex Jensen.