Feb 23, 2021 - Health

Wealthy Californians reportedly exploit COVID vaccine program

The Lincoln Park Covid-19 vaccination site on February 19 in Los Angeles. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

California residents in affluent communities are taking up COVID-19 vaccination appointments meant for underserved communities of color, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Why it matters: Although Gov. Gavin Newsom has frequently stressed the importance of establishing equity in the state’s vaccine rollout, affluent white and Asian-American Californians are still receiving the vaccine at higher rates than Black and Latino residents in underserved areas, per the Times.

The program was created to implement fairness in vaccine distribution. It gives special access codes to people in largely Black and Latino communities to make appointments on a vaccine scheduling website.

Between the lines: Wealthy Los Angeles residents – many of whom are not yet eligible for the vaccine - have gained access to the codes through group texts and messages, according to the Times, and were able to make appointments at Cal State Los Angeles.

  • Cal OES spokesperson Brian Ferguson told the LAT that the program is new and the challenges are being addressed. “In order to solve for that, we’ve taken steps to ensure we’re auditing, monitoring how the codes are used very carefully," he said.

The big picture: This is just one example in a larger racial disparity seen in early vaccine distribution in the U.S. An AP analysis found that Black people are being vaccinated at lower levels than the general population even though they make up a large portion of the nation’s health care workers.

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