California is losing its campaign to vaccinate racial minorities fairly

LOS ANGELES – Months before a Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in the US, California was planning how to bring it to communities hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, including racial minorities.

Two months after the vaccine was launched, those efforts are failing.

Black and Latino Californians collectively account for 59% of reported Covid-19 infections in the state, but represent 19% of those who have been vaccinated. In contrast, white residents account for 20% of infections and 33% of those vaccinated.

Hoping to speed up and simplify vaccine distribution, the state overhauled its vaccine system last month, scrapping its original plan, which would have prioritized essential workers in many industries. For now, only people 65 and older, healthcare workers, and residents and long-term care staff are eligible in most of the state.

The pace of vaccines has accelerated since the changes were announced: California has gone from 45th in the country in vaccine doses administered per capita a month ago to 31st now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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