There is high demand for the COVID vaccine, and some people are offering to pay top dollar to jump the line. The doctors of the rich and famous say that isn't possible.
Dr. Donna Ni, owner of San Diego Concierge Medicine: "It is only to the hospitals, to the front lines, and Pfizer is highly controlled by the government right now, so we just tell them right now, the clients, to wait a little."
Concierge medicine is a system where clients directly pay doctors premium fees for round-the-clock availability, at-home care, or even easier access to COVID tests and treatment.
Ni: "How can I make sure I have plasma antibodies? How can I make sure I have Remdesivir? Do I qualify for Regeneron?"
That premium access was one of the markers of inequity during the pandemic, especially considering the disproportionate rates of death in impoverished and under-resourced communities.
As a result, some bioethicists are concerned about possible future inequities in the vaccine rollout — but right now, the vaccine isn't something people can just buy. A Beverly Hills doctor whose clients include celebrities like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber told Los Angeles Magazine: "We get hundreds of calls every single day. This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients."
The vaccine rollout is currently prioritizing health care workers and long-term care facility residents. But down the line, when it's open to essential workers, concierge doctors say they will have more flexibility to advocate for their patients.
Ni: "We are not trying to get them to a different priority group. We just want to make sure that when that priority group hits, they are eligible for care."