CSAC Bulletin Article

Latest Vaccine Rollout Changes Prioritize Equity for Underserved Californians

March 4, 2021

Governor Gavin Newsom announced important changes to vaccine prioritization and California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The state will now earmark 40 percent of its COVID-19 vaccine doses for low-income communities spread out across 400 of the state’s Zip Codes, or the lower quartile of the state’s Healthy Places Index.

Once 2 million of the roughly 8 million eligible residents in those communities are vaccinated, which is expected to occur within the next two weeks, the state will adjust the coronavirus case rate needed for counties to move from the most restrictive purple tier to the red tier. Instead of 7 cases per 100,000, it will be raised to 10 cases per 100,000 — easing the way for restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters, and other businesses to reopen indoors at limited capacity. Once 4 million residents are vaccinated in those low-income communities, the state will adjust the threshold to enter the orange and yellow tiers but has not yet shared those metrics.  

Counties applaud the new vaccine strategy as it aligns with ongoing and longstanding county equity efforts. African American and Latino Californians have been the hardest hit throughout the pandemic, with the highest levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. They’ve also been vaccinated at lower rates.

Vaccine shortages continue to confound overall equity and eligibility efforts at all levels. This week, vaccine progress will be impeded by the severe shortage of vaccines and the need to redirect first doses to complete mid-stream two-dose vaccinations.

Updating the Blueprint for a Safer Economy in light of this targeted vaccine deployment and strong county-led efforts to administer more than two million vaccines a week provides a light at the end of the tunnel and a beginning pathway out of the pandemic for all Californians. Counties thank Governor Newsom for his ongoing advocacy to maximize the doses flowing into California. 

These vaccination efforts, along with continued vigilance like mask-wearing and testing will help get kids back into schools and supercharge the economic engines needed for fiscal recovery.

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