Given that Pfizer's vaccine is in short supply and stringent temperature requirements for shipment and storage have limited vaccinations only to frontline hospital workers and long term elderly patients - there's a growing movement among wealthy Americans offering five-figure donations to hospitals to cut in line and receive an early dose of the vaccine.
Wealthy Californians are calling their doctors, offering tens of thousands of dollars in donations for the chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine early, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"We get hundreds of calls every single day," said Ehsan Ali, who runs Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor.
Ali, whose clients include Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, pay thousands of dollars per year for personalized care. "This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients," he said.
Like the rest of the country, California has laid out health-care workers, nursing home residents, essential workers, people with chronic health conditions, in that order, will receive the vaccine. Everyone else will have to wait as vaccines are in short supply.
Physician Jeff Toll, who has admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, had one patient ask him:
"If I donate $25,000 to Cedars, would that help me get in line?'"
Toll said, of course, not.
Ahead of vaccine distribution, we informed readers that scarcity could create a black market for the rich and famous. Once vaccines are available that don't require ultra-cold storage and local pharmacies and physician practices get allotments, that's precisely when the black market for the rich could start.
Representatives for Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccines are now available, said doctors could not buy doses. At the moment, the federal government is controlling the allocation of doses.
Until the vaccine is available for purchase by nongovernmental buyers, concierge doctors will have to wait, but that hasn't stopped their clients from lining up:
"People are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars" to jump in line, said Toll.
A tiered system is certainly materializing, one where rich and famous will use their power and wealth to receive the vaccine first while the working-poor wait.
... maybe it's a good idea not to rush into receiving a vaccine considering the CDC has identified cases of anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction in some people.
The best thing someone with money and power can do is escape the metro area to the countryside to wait out the pandemic storm.