The Florida Department of Health wants nearly $17,000 to hand over public records about the state’s coronavirus vaccine prioritization and distribution plan — a high financial barrier preventing the release of documents that could shed light on a process that’s been a confusing, bureaucratic headache.
In mid-December, VICE News submitted a public records request asking for vaccine distribution-related correspondence between the state’s health department and county and city health officials, nonprofit organizations, private companies, elected officials, advisory committees, law enforcement, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over a two-and-a-half-month period. Those records, which could tell the story of the state’s vaccination rollout, may include emails, presentations, memos, and more.
The state told us it has the records, but said we’d have to pay $16,982 in order to get them. The fee, the Florida Department of Health said, is for $36 per hour for 470 hours of work, plus an IT charge and a fee for “public records staff time.”
“All payments must be received prior to review, processing, and/or release of records,” the invoice reads.