California Uses ZIP Codes, Outreach to Boost Vaccine Equity

February 9, 2021by Amy Taxin, Associated Press
Juan Delgado, 73, right, receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot from a health care worker at a vaccination site in the Mission district of San Francisco, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Counties in California and other places in the U.S. are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. San Francisco is reserving some vaccines for seniors in the two ZIP codes hit hardest by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hing Yiu Chung lives in a racially diverse San Francisco neighborhood hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. While vaccines have been difficult to come by, the 69-year-old got one by showing proof she lives where she does.

She had to wait in line for two hours with other seniors, some who were disabled or leaning on canes, for a chance at a couple hundred shots available each day through a local public health clinic in the Bayview neighborhood.

“Fortunately, it wasn’t a cold or rainy day, otherwise it would have been harder,” she said in Chinese.

The experience wasn’t ideal, but targeting vulnerable ZIP codes is one way San Francisco and other U.S. cities and counties are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

In Dallas, authorities tried to prioritize such ZIP codes, which tended to be communities of color, but backtracked after the state threatened to reduce the city’s vaccine supply.

Nationwide, states are struggling to distribute vaccines equitably even as officials try to define what equity means. They’re debating what risk factors gets someone to the head of the line: those in poverty, communities of color, their job or if they have a disability. Others simply want to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

In California, which has prioritized seniors and health care workers, Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced a federal partnership for mass vaccination sites in Oakland and east Los Angeles, saying the locations were chosen to target working-class “communities that are often left behind.”

“Not only do we want fast and efficient, but we want equitable distribution of the vaccine,” he told reporters Monday in San Diego, where he hinted that a mass vaccination site would be announced soon for farm and food workers in central California.

Newsom also says a new state vaccine distribution system will pay providers to offer shots in vulnerable neighborhoods and communities of color. Insurer Blue Shield of California will run the program and collect demographics on who’s getting the shots.
“Unfortunately, because of the history of racism and discrimination in the United States, what we see is that those community resources are not evenly allocated,” said California’s surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris. “So we do have to incentivize and pay for performance if we want to get equivalent outcomes in vulnerable communities.”
Some counties aren’t waiting for a state program.
In agriculturally rich areas, Fresno County has set aside vaccines for farmworkers, while the public health agency further south in Riverside County has partnered with an immigrant advocacy group to inoculate farmworkers.
In Santa Clara County, near the San Francisco Bay Area, community leaders called on Newsom last week to prioritize doses for ZIP codes with the highest COVID-19 rates, saying vaccines are going to wealthier people with internet access and time on their hands. Latinos make up a quarter of the county but represent more than half of COVID-19 infections.

“Our message to the governor is simple: Prioritize communities that have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. That would be a commitment to equity,” said Jessica Paz-Cedillos, executive director of the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, which is in one of five Santa Clara County ZIP codes where the infection rate is double the countywide average.

The plaza in San Jose holds vaccinations two days a week for county residents on a first-come, first-served basis, and people must show proof of age or occupation. Seniors line up well before sunrise, carrying blankets and chairs.
Similar scenes played out at a new pop-up vaccination clinic in San Francisco’s Mission District, which also has high infection rates. Some 120 doses a day are intended for health workers and seniors by invitation only, but Jon Jacobo, health committee chairman with the Latino Task Force, easily saw 200 people lined up recently, some in their 90s.
He called the lines of desperate seniors “heartbreaking” but said the clinic needs to prioritize people in the most disadvantaged ZIP codes.
“What I don’t want to see is what’s happening in Washington Heights (in Manhattan) or in South Central LA, where you’ve had doctors helping serve the Black community say, ‘This is the most white people I’ve seen in this neighborhood,'” he said.

Aura Sunux, a 43-year-old immigrant from Guatemala who delivers food and health supplies to homebound clients, received her shot Monday at the clinic.
“I feel relieved, believe me,” she said. “I have not gotten sick, but I’ve been very close to people who have come up positive.”

California released figures Monday suggesting the lopsided distribution of vaccines to date. Latinos have received 15% of nearly 5 million doses administered — half the rate of white residents, though they make up the bulk of infections and deaths. Black residents have received 2.7% of the doses despite making up 6% of the state’s population.

Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents, has delivered at least one dose to just 7% of Black residents 65 and older, while inoculating more than twice that rate of white and Asian seniors. While lower than the rate for white seniors, 14% of older Latinos have been vaccinated.

“Everyone is pretending like this is going to get done in a month or two months,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founding director of University of California, Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation. “Now is the time to design these systems so those who are most severely impacted by COVID, in terms of cases and deaths, are those who have a fair shot at getting a shot.”

Overwhelming demand for vaccines and short supplies can discourage people from seeking the shot, especially in communities where many are suspicious of vaccines.
Health officials said working with community groups is key to ensuring people have access to the vaccine and get it. Riverside County gave more than 600 shots during two visits to the farm-rich Coachella Valley by joining with a local group that signed people up, said Jose Arballo, public health agency spokesman.
“We can do a million clinics,” he said, “but if they don’t want to come because they’re afraid or anxious or afraid their information is going to be used as part of immigration enforcement, they’re not going to come to us.”


Taxin reported from Orange County. Associated Press journalists Haven Daley contributed from San Francisco and Kathleen Ronayne from Sacramento, California.

State News

California Oil Spill Renews Calls to Ban Offshore Drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara... Read More

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the infamous 1969 Santa Barbara spill that sparked the modern environmental movement, and the latest spill off Huntington Beach is prompting fresh calls for an end to such drilling. That's easier... Read More

September 14, 2021
by Victoria Turner
State and Local Governments Will Drive Broadband Deployment Success

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed... Read More

States will be at the helm of the $42.5 billion in block grants designated in the historic $65 billion proposed for nationwide high-speed broadband within President Biden’s infrastructure bill.  The broadband-related funding of the bill itself shows the federal government recognizes broadband as essential as a... Read More

April 22, 2021
by TWN Staff
New Caucus Aims to Bring Main Street Priorities to Capitol Hill

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that... Read More

Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that the priorities and concerns of cities and counties across America are heard on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus of Former Local Elected Officials was formed... Read More

April 16, 2021
by TWN Staff
35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs... Read More

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More

Plan Afoot to Extend PPP Deadline to May 31

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House... Read More

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House and the Senate and will likely be voted on before lawmakers head back to their districts at the end of the month. The proposal to extend... Read More

March 2, 2021
by TWN Staff
Cherry Blossom Peak Bloom Date Announced

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the... Read More

WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5.  That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version