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Is California's Latest Vaccine Rollout Plan De-Prioritizing Higher-Risk Residents?

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Health care workers line up in cars as a COVID-19 mass-vaccination takes place at Dodger Stadium on January 15, 2021. (Irfan Khan / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)
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Some health advocates fear California's recent changes to its vaccine rollout plan sacrifice equity for speed. They wonder how the state is going to live up to Gov. Gavin Newsom's oft-repeated pledge to distribute vaccines with an "equity lens."

"We feel like our communities are being once again overlooked," said Rhonda Smith, executive director of the California Black Health Network. "It's nothing new, but it's disappointing. This is our reality and why we do the work we do."

Alice Wong, a San Francisco disabled activist, said she was "completely thrown" by the new emphasis on age. Wong, who is 46, has a progressive neuromuscular disability that requires the use of a wheelchair and ventilator. Under previous criteria, she would have been eligible shortly after health care workers and nursing home residents:

"With high-risk people like me deprioritized, I will be part of a huge cohort and may have to wait longer or face more difficulty getting an appointment. It's very painful, especially with new variants of the virus emerging and knowing the pandemic won't end anytime soon."

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