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Middletown Mayor Draws Backlash After Taking Vaccine Dose Intended For Priority Groups

Seth Wenig

Middletown, Connecticut, Mayor Ben Florsheim drew criticism on social media after he posted a picture of himself receiving a COVID-19 vaccination intended for 1A priority groups, like health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents.

Florsheim told Hearst Connecticut Media he took the Moderna vaccine to avoid extra doses from going to waste, and because he wanted to set an example for the public. He said otherwise, the city would have had to throw away 12 “extra” doses.

The Moderna vials come in doses of 10 and must be used within six hours of opening the package, according to the acting health director of Middletown.

The mayor said there were extras after priority 1A workers had to cancel their vaccinations last minute due to illness or other factors. Critics on social media wondered why the city did not try to contact firefighters or police officers on duty and offer them a vaccination appointment, after the cancellations. The health department has since changed protocols to make sure extra doses would go to members of 1A groups.

The city has since removed the social media posts. Florshiem said he wanted to avoid confusion about who the state is prioritizing for vaccine distribution.

Public officials had been considered for phase 1B of vaccination, which the state hopes to begin later this month.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.