While coronavirus vaccine distribution has been frustratingly slow around the country, some Hollywood executives have reportedly been trying to jump the line and get inoculated as soon as possible. One Beverly Hills doctor even claimed some individuals in the entertainment industry have offered him bribes, Variety reported Monday. Some members of UCLA's executive health service have been "inundating" the program director for information on vaccinations as well.
Dr. Robert Huizenga, who appeared as an expert on The Biggest Loser, told Variety that some people were offering over $10,000 to get a vaccine. "We've been offered bribes. We see people taking planes to every location," the Beverly Hills doctor said. "We've seen people try to transiently get into the healthcare profession or on staff at nursing homes, so they qualify for an early vaccine." He later explained that entertainment executives were among those desperate to be vaccinated early. "You can't really blame them for pulling out all the stops. The state and the government have set up a system that is really horrendous," Huizenga said.
According to Variety, "hundreds" of executives, stars, and actors are asking their doctors about vaccinations. Some have been bugging UCLA executive health program director Dr. Robert Ansell on details about when they can get a vaccine. "UCLA is operating extremely by the book and hasn't given a single shot to the concierge patients," a member of the service told Variety. It costs between $15,000 and $25,000 annually to join the UCLA program and some members have openly complained to the Board of Regents about the slow vaccine distribution in Los Angeles.
"Philanthropic support is in no way a criterion to determine vaccine candidacy, and no program or options exist to bypass vaccination priorities at UCLA Health," a UCLA spokesperson told Variety. "We are following the direction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and prioritizing health care workers, followed by patients 65 and older and facing the greatest risk based on their medical conditions. As supplies increase and guidelines expand, we are prepared to increase the number of people being offered an opportunity to be vaccinated."
While some Hollywood stars might be looking for ways to jump the lines, other actors are standing in them just like everyone else. Harrison Ford got his vaccination at El Camino Community College in Torrance, California, and stood in like for over two hours. Producer Frank Marshall tweeted about getting his vaccination at a Kroger supermarket and Arnold Schwarzenegger shared his experiences getting vaccinated in East Los Angeles. Comedian Steve Martin waited for his at the Javitz Center in New York.