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Commissioner admits she handpicked zip codes to receive vaccine appointments

Manatee County Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh told commissioners at Tuesday's workshop that she selected the zip codes that received vaccine appointments.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Manatee County Commissioners are at odds over how people were selected to receive a coronavirus vaccine this week at a new state-run pop-up site in Lakewood Ranch.

During Tuesday's workshop, Commissioner Vanessa Baugh told commissioners she chose to give the 3.000 appointments to those who live in the neighboring two zip codes 34202 and 34211 instead of randomly through the county's vaccine lottery.

"It has nothing to do with Manatee County Commission. This was strictly by Mr. Jensen, the governor with my help," Baugh said.

Fellow commissioners say they're glad the county is getting more vaccines, but they believe the distribution of doses should have been done more equally.

"It does compromise our system. It does pit people against each other. We ask you know why we think there's a racism problem perceived in Manatee County this adds to that argument because you're taking the whitest demographic, the richest demographic in Manatee County, and putting them ahead of everyone else," said Commissioner Misty Servia, who represents District 4.

"I think from a leadership standpoint, I think what I would have wanted to do is for the pool to be left where it was and for people the 3,000 to be pulled so whatever zip codes, they're not segregated," Commissioner Reggie Bellamy from District 2 said.

Commissioner Baugh who represents District 5 defended her decision saying it's taking people out of the wait for the lottery which includes the zips in her district

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