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Morning Brief: Racial And Ethnic Inequities Found In Vaccination Rollout

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Good morning, L.A.

Amid many other concerns about the coronavirus vaccine rollout in L.A. and California, watchdog groups are becoming increasingly concerned that the inoculations aren’t reaching all residents equally.

California officials aren’t releasing demographic information about who’s received the vaccine, writes Barbara Feder Ostrov, who covers medicine and health policy for CalMatters. But once the current group of eligible people are immunized — a contingent that includes essential workers and those over the age of 65 — the state plans to switch to age-based eligibility.

That switch will remove suggestions to prioritize people with pre-existing conditions and individuals in harder-hit areas, instead lumping them in with everyone in the next age group below 65.

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"We feel like our communities are being once again overlooked," said Rhonda Smith, executive director of the California Black Health Network.

In L.A., coronavirus vaccines have already been painfully difficult to secure, largely due to low supply. A significant percentage of new shipments are earmarked for second doses, leaving precious few to begin the inoculation process with new recipients. Plus, many residents have found the process of getting appointments for second doses confusing and slow.

Statewide, the vaccine distribution plan has come under scrutiny, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is now being questioned about his decision to enlist the help of Blue Shield to get shots into arms.

Meanwhile, data from other states is already showing racial disparities with regards to who is receiving the vaccine. For instance, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis, 1.2% of white Pennsylvanians had been vaccinated as of mid-January, compared with 0.3% of Black Pennsylvanians.

Smith notes that the pattern of Black communities being underserved by the medical system is, unfortunately, one she’s grown accustomed to seeing.

“It's nothing new,” she said, “but it's disappointing.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

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Before You Go …

Ava DuVernay speaks onstage at the 2020 13th Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Rich Polk/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

This week’s from-your-couch activities are exciting. You can listen to Ava DuVernay talk about her ARRAY film initiative, tune in as Hilton Als and Jia Tolentino discuss Joan Didion, explore the LGBTQ history of Boyle Heights, and more.

Or, if all you really need is a good laugh, check out Self-Care Comedy with DeAnne Smith, Sofiya Alexandra, Anna Valenzuela, Christine Little and Sean Keane.

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