California to give 40% of vaccine doses to vulnerable areas

Marco Green
Марта 5, 2021

Patients at the St. John's Well Child And Family Center in South Los Angeles were inoculated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Another sudden shift in state policy has triggered an array of concerns and confusion today about how California's still-scarce COVID-19 vaccine supplies will be divvied up.

In a major shift in policy, California officials said Wednesday night they will now devote 40% of available COVID-19 vaccines to residents in the most disadvantaged areas in a move created to both slow the spread of coronavirus and speed up the reopening of the economy.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is launching a new initiative to help get vaccine doses to 'seniors who live in areas of high social vulnerability, ' Andy Slavitt, White House Senior Advisor for COVID Response said on Wednesday.

Officials said they also may change the sector-by-sector business reopening guidelines in the coming weeks.

After the state achieves its 2-million dose goal, however, counties with a case rate of up to 10 new cases per day per 100,000 people will become eligible for the red tier.

The Los Angeles and Central Valley areas comprise numerous communities on the low end of the index, which takes into account access to transportation, housing and education status of residents, officials said.

State officials announced on Wednesday that about eight million Californians are living in the 400 lowest-income ZIP codes. So now those communities will receive at least 400,000 doses more in the next two weeks, double the current supply.

California Public Health data shows the state's Latino community has borne the greatest impact due to the pandemic.

Numerous neighborhoods are in Los Angeles County, cities around Fresno and Visalia, and the Central Valley that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. And some ZIP codes, such as one in Hawthorne and Manhattan Beach, contain both types of neighborhoods. It comes at a time when more people are becoming eligible for immunizations.

For the vaccine hesitant, Ghaly said engaging with local trusted messengers is important. They've also been vaccinated at lower rates.


California to give 40% of vaccine doses to vulnerable areas

The allotment of 40% to certain communities raises questions about whether other populations of Californians will be pushed lower on the priority list. With large amounts of vaccine now reserved, there will be less to go around to other groups.

Newsom has called equity the state's "North Star".

Public health officials say the state will allocate 40% of its vaccines to its hardest-hit communities, reserve appointments for members of these communities, and increase funding to cover start-up costs for safety net providers and navigation assistance in order to ensure an equitable rollout of vaccines.

Specifically, Latinos make up 39 percent of the population of California, but account for just 17 percent of people who have received one or more vaccine doses.

"We have confidence that when you look forward to April, to opening day", Newsom said, "and where we are likely to be if we all do our jobs, if we don't let our guard down and spike the ball - wrong sport - then I have all the confidence in the world that fans will be back safely, in a lot of these outdoor venues".

Ghaly said a disproportionate number of people with chronic conditions or disabilities live in the prioritized ZIP codes.

"We will not mark real and demonstrable progress to address the issue of the hardest hit communities that have been underserved across the spectrum and now are being underserved in terms of access to vaccinations", he said at a press conference Thursday.

The state uses the Healthy Places Index (HPI) to identify which communities are most at-risk of infection and spreading the virus. In comparison, 34% of the state's vaccines have been administered in communities in the highest quarter. Currently, the county's case rate 10.8 per 100,000.

The new policy will not affect anyone who is now eligible to be vaccinated including healthcare workers, senior citizens, teachers, first responders, and food and agriculture workers. State officials have said that after essential workers and people with underlying medical conditions, vaccination eligibility will be based on age.

CalMatters COVID-19 coverage, translation and distribution is supported by generous grants from the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation and the California Health Care Foundation.

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