‘There shouldn’t be any discrimination’: Hospital systems make COVID-19 vaccine available to general public

ORLANDO, Fla. — 9 Investigates looked into claims that our hospital systems limited their vaccine doses to their own patients, and not the general public.

We told you our counties can’t turn away people for vaccine appointments, even if they’re not county residents. However, both AdventHealth and Orlando Health only invited health care workers, employees and seniors who are established patients and their caregivers to sign up for available doses this week.

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Late this afternoon, an AdventHealth spokesperson said that no one was limited from signing up for available doses, but patients were sent invitations directly.

That’s different from what went out in an internal memo, obtained by 9 Investigates, to AdventHealth staff. It stated that besides health care workers who have direct patient contact, and AdventHealth caregivers and relatives, only established AdventHealth patients would be eligible to receive the doses being administered near the Orlando International Airport.

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“This should be a vaccine for all, we subsidize it with our taxpayer dollars, and the hospital should be a funnel to get it out to the entire community,” said Marni Jameson Carey, the executive director of the Association of Independent Doctors.

The AID is questioning why the hospital systems prioritized their own patients, instead of giving all seniors the same playing field.

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“There shouldn’t be any discrimination,” Jameson Carey said. “If you are 65 or older, you should be able to get this vaccine.”

An Orlando Health spokesperson told us in a statement, “Orlando Health is adhering to Governor DeSantis’ executive order to vaccinate individuals who are 65 years of age and older, while successfully managing the limited supply of vaccine available and our own internal resources.”

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AdventHealth leaders told us though its patients were invited, anyone could technically sign up for a dose. Now, it’s up to the state to send the system more doses.

“We shouldn’t have to rely on a government system to tell us right from wrong, and it seems to me morally right to provide a free vaccine to a community in need,” Jameson Carey said.

AdventHealth leaders have created coronavirusvaccinealerts.com to help people sign up for doses.

Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.