If you’ve been tracking vaccination efforts in California and the United States, you know it’s not going well. Not even a little bit. In fact, multiple states across the country are lagging behind. Numerous factors are slowing the vaccine rollout. In short, manufacturing and distribution issues have been exacerbated by inclement weather in the midwest and northeast. In addition, a racial gap has opened up in the United States’ vaccination drive. According to The Guardian, in 17 states and two cities, Black Americans are receiving inoculations at levels below their share of the general population. In some cases, the levels are substantially below. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said recently that the city is adding more mobile clinics to address the vaccine disparity. As Los Angeles increases rolling vaccination clinics to reach more people of color, we examine how we got here and what’s being done to close the gap.
Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity (MOVE)
“Vaccines can be a powerful instrument of equity, and we must act now to tear down any barriers that stand between these life-saving doses and Black, Latino, and low-income Angelenos…our City is sending a clear message: as we work to protect people’s health and defeat this pandemic, no one will be left behind.”-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (courtesy of LAMayor.org
This latest vaccine effort from Mayor Garcetti comes on the heels of the City’s pilot initiative. That endeavor saw 4,200+ vaccines administered in communities of color in its first two weeks. The first steps of the MOVE initiative include expanded services to South Park, Green Meadows, and Boyle Heights last week. After that, 10 mobile vaccination teams have been deployed in the field this week. Those additional sites include:
- East LA
- South LA
- Northeast LA
- East San Fernando Valley
- & more
Each location is an area with a high-risk profile, per the L.A. County COVID-19 Medical Vulnerability Indicators. Every clinic is capable of vaccinating up to 200 people per day. Moreover, that number can scale up as more supplies become available.
Local Community Leaders Assist
Enhanced outreach plays a vital role in ensuring vaccines reach the individuals that need them most. To that end, MOVE teams will be working alongside local community leaders for multiple steps in the process. Community leaders will help people book appointments, secure transportation, and build trust and confidence in the vaccine.
The unfortunate reality is that Los Angeles’ communities of color represent the highest number of cases and deaths by COVID-19 in the region. To clarify, Latinos in LA County make up 63% of all cases and 52% of deaths. That number is even more alarming when you consider Latinos only represent 48% of the population.
A Troubling Disparity
Countless experts have weighed in on the emerging disparity in the United States vaccination rollout. The truth is that multiple factors could be to blame. Some examples include:
- A deep distrust of the medical establishment among Black Americans due to a history of discriminatory treatment
- Inadequate access to the vaccine in Black neighborhoods
- A digital divide that can make it difficult to obtain crucial information
Access for Angelenos with Disabilities
MOVE isn’t the only way in which Los Angeles is striving to increase vaccine access. Mayor Garcetti also recently announced a brand new express lane at Dodger Stadium. That lane will be expressly for customers of Access Services (the agency which provides transportations for Angelenos with disabilities). Eligible Access riders can book their appointment and a roundtrip ride by calling 626-532-1616.
Other California Vaccination News
The good news for vaccine hopefuls in California keeps on coming! Governor Gavin Newsom recently rolled out a new system for delivering, tracking, and scheduling coronavirus vaccines in select counties. In January, Newsom chose insurer Blue Shield to design and manage a centralized system to get doses out quickly and equitably. 10 counties were chosen for the initial list:
- San Joaquin
Starting March 3, another group of counties (including Los Angeles), will be added. San Francisco is among the counties being added in mid-March, though the dates and counties in each group are subject to change.
As California’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop, and the State ramps up vaccination efforts — hope may finally be returning to our collective consciousness. Let us hope the combined efforts of Mayor Garcetti and Governor Newsom can deliver significant blows to this virus. With any luck, the county can remain on the road to recovery as Los Angeles continues to add these vaccination clinics to reach more people of color.
Are you hopeful about the beginning of the end of the COVID nightmare? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!