Feb 3, 2021 - Health

Cities struggle to target vaccines to the hardest-hit communities

Illustration of a needle injecting money

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several big cities have had to retool their vaccine distribution after wealthier, white residents poured into systems that were supposed to prioritize the lower-income communities of color hit hardest by the pandemic, The New York Times reports.

The big picture: People who have can take away from work, have the time to navigate reservation systems and busy phone lines, and who have reliable transportation have all had a leg up — even though those largely aren't the communities where the coronavirus is doing the most damage.

By the numbers: In Washington D.C., 40% of the nearly 7,000 appointments made available to people 65 and older were taken by residents of the wealthiest and whitest ward, where only 5% of the city's COVID deaths were located.

  • Partial vaccination data from other cities like Philadelphia and Miami, Fla., point to similar disparities, per the NYT.

What's next: Washington D.C. has changed its policy in prioritizing zip codes with the highest infection rates — which have tended to be Black and brown neighborhoods — and other cities are trying to do the same.

Go deeper