Sacramento, CA – The California Black Health Network, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, The Children’s Partnership, Health Access, Justice in Aging, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and Prevention Institute celebrate and strongly support the state’s decision to allocate 40% of available COVID-19 doses to the communities in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index (HPI). The HPI measures community conditions like housing, transportation, and education, as well as other indicators of health and well-being.
“We are glad to see the state updated its vaccination strategy to be laser focused on equity. While residents of California’s most impacted ZIP codes only represent a quarter of the state population, they have endured a disproportionate impact of the pandemic,” says Kiran Savage-Sangwan, Executive Director. “Pairing this strategy with also vaccinating based on occupation and high-risk medical conditions will help us focus on our communities of color, LGBTQ+, and communities with disabilities, who we know contract and die from the virus at higher rates than white communities.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities and organizations have known that Black, Indigenous, communities of color would bear the brunt of the pandemic, both in case and death rates, and financially and economically as well. Data show at every step of the way our communities were suffering the worst but often did not have equitable access to PPE, testing, contact tracing, business loans, housing and rental supports. The most recent vaccination data continues this unjust trend; to date Black and Latinx Californians have been vaccinated at a rate far lower than their share of the population.
“In addition to the strategy announced by the state today, we recommend that local health jurisdictions take into account communities not reflected in the HPI, and allocate doses to these communities who are also vulnerable. Communities like Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders are often too small to be reflected in these tools. Equally important to allocation and prioritization is removing barriers to access and utilizing community-based providers to administer the vaccine and build confidence in our communities. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Governor to address vaccine equity and many other health equity issues,” added Savage-Sangwan.
“The State’s decision to prioritize the hardest hit communities in vaccine allocations represents an important step towards equity. Unfortunately, too many of California’s Black, Indigenous, and communities of color have been left behind in the State’s recovery process. The California Black Health Network (CBHN) applauds the State for taking this critical step, which is necessary for an equitable recovery,” said Eugene Canson, MPH, Policy & Advocacy Consultant, California Black Health Network.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the gaps in the safety net for communities of color throughout California. We applaud this update to the state’s vaccination strategy because it firmly establishes a plan to vaccinate those most disproportionately damaged by this pandemic,” said Orville Thomas, Director of Government Affairs for the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Getting shots into the arms of immigrant Californians is just the start of a larger recovery plan that needs to be put into place. We need to make sure that we provide health care, economic opportunity, and limit criminal justice abuses if we are to truly thrive together as we move forward.”
“The COVID–19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated severe and pervasive injustices in our state and country against BIPOC families, including millions of children. Equity requires us to prioritize these communities in our collective recovery and we thank Governor Newsom for doubling the vaccine allotment for our state’s hardest hit communities,” said Mayra E Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership. “Using equity as a primary factor for vaccine distribution in our approach provides us with an opportunity to begin to undo the generations of injustice that have led to the social conditions that result in people of color being more likely to be impacted by COVID-19 and its devastating consequences on health, wellbeing, and stability.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the inequitable distribution of care in our current health care system, and vaccine allocation faces the same issues. Earmarking 40% of vaccines is vital in ensuring that those most hard hit by this pandemic, particularly communities of color, low-income Californians, and those who face higher risks due to their underlying health factors, can get this life-saving shot as soon as possible,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California. “This allocation will not only provide personal peace of mind for many in our most in-need communities, but also eases the burden on our health system as a whole and helps us all get out of this public health crisis sooner.”
“We welcome the state’s updated vaccine allocation to prioritize those communities most impacted by COVID-19. Older adults of color will benefit from this allocation, and we look forward to working with the state on ensuring that the allocated vaccines are actually administered to older adults and others in those high-risk communities,” says Denny Chan Directing Attorney, Equity and Racial Justice Advocacy with Justice in Aging.
“COVID-19 has decimated the Latinx community and yet, they have been largely left behind in relief and recovery efforts, from testing to vaccine access. Latinos represent only 17% of those receiving the vaccine to date, far below its 39% share of the state’s population, it is clear that more needed to be done,” says Dr. Jeffrey Reynoso, Executive Director, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (Sacramento, California). “Governor Newsom’s decision to double vaccine allotment to hardest hit communities—which will allocate more vaccines in places like the Central Valley and Los Angeles County—is a step in the right direction. In order to achieve true health equity, the state should consider increasing investments in trusted community health centers and CBOs to ensure that the vaccine is accessible to our communities. Doing so will not only protect Latinx households, but safely accelerate California’s economic reopening.”
“This is an extremely important policy change and acknowledgement that our existing distribution system was reinforcing — rather than reversing — COVID-19 inequities,,” said Rachel Davis, executive director of Prevention Institute. “It’s essential that our vaccine-distribution strategy breaks old patterns of disparity and injustice and supports access to health resources in the hardest-hit Black, Latino and Indigenous communities. These are the same communities that are most likely to be deprived of community conditions that support healthy lives like stable housing, safe streets, access to healthy food and outdoor spaces for physical activity. And that’s why it’s essential to ensure access to vaccines through policy.”
Linked, see two letters a group that sits on the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee (CVAC) sent to the administration about the need for a place based vaccine approach. December 21, 2020: Equity Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, February 19, 2020: Equity Must Drive Vaccine Distribution