Vaccine VIPs? Former politician’s post ruffles feathers of health officials

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A former Utah state senator is causing quite a stir with a controversial Facebook post about the COVID-19 vaccine, making a claim that state health leaders say simply is not true.

On Saturday morning former Senator and 2019 Salt Lake City Mayoral candidate Jim Dabakis claimed in a post: “A public official has told me that state ‘VIP’s’ and their families are likely getting in on the first shots, regardless of their age or health. Both politicians and ‘community leaders’…Many of them want this quiet, not because they are ashamed to cut in line but rather, they don’t want their political base to know they are taking the shots!”

State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn replied to Dabakis on Twitter, stating: “The only VIPs getting the #COVID19 vaccine first in Utah are healthcare workers, long-term care facilities, and educators. Starting this coming week!!!!”

On Monday, Intermountain Healthcare’s Medical Director of Infection Prevention Dr. Kristin Dascomb also shot down the rumor of priority access.

“At this time, we have no plans to give out the vaccine to any community members,” Dr. Dascomb said. The post ruffled feathers at the Utah Department of Health, prompting Interim Director Rich Saunders to issue a statement, reading in part: “Former Sen. Jim Dabakis’s reckless attempt to mislead the public is both shameful and harmful… I can say with absolute confidence that there is not a list of political or community VIPs who will receive preferential treatment with regard to access to the vaccine.”

Saunders called upon Dabakis to remove the post but as of Monday evening, it was still on his Facebook page.

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