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Morning Brief: LA’s Vaccine Inequity Mirrors The Rest Of The County

A dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A.

As local data is collected and processed, the emerging picture of vaccinations in L.A. County is mirroring the picture from across the country: Black and Latina/o Angelenos are being vaccinated at a much lower rate than other populations.

The most recent data shows that more than twice the number of white, Asian and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander residents have received the vaccine than Black and Latina/o residents.

While some have pointed to the Black community’s mistrust of the medical community to explain the disparity, Dr. Jerry Abraham, director of vaccine programs at Kedren Health, disagrees.

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“Misinterpreting lack of access for hesitancy was to me very offensive, because the Black and brown health care workers that came [to vaccine sites] came with their sleeves rolled up, and they were ready for a vaccination,” he said.

Data from other states shows the same trend; according to a Kaiser Health News analysis, 1.2% of white Pennsylvanians had been vaccinated as of mid-January, compared with 0.3% of the state’s Black residents. Inequities have also been found in Maryland, Nevada, Texas, Washington state, North Carolina, and dozens of other regions.

These trends come after the well-publicized fact that Black and Latina/o communities have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Many residents, advocates and experts have expressed concern that state and local officials are prioritizing speed over equality when it comes to vaccine distribution. Those concerns were exacerbated when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would move to age-based eligibility once residents over 65 are vaccinated.

Another concern is line-cutters; officials in L.A. recently reported that some people appear to be giving their second dose appointments to others, so they can receive a first dose.

Writing in The Washington Post, medical experts (and twin sisters) Uché and Oni Blackstock propose four solutions to vaccine inequity: putting Black Americans on the priority list, explicitly using race and ethnicity as a qualifying factor; identifying accessible vaccine sites in Black communities; public education campaigns; and the mandated collection of racial and ethnic data on vaccinations.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

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Before You Go … Want To Buy A Town?

The Whistle Stop Cafe and Saloon in Nipton, California. (Brent Holmes for LAist)

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The 80-acre patch in the Mojave Desert with one hotel, one restaurant, five eco-cabins, 10 teepees and an RV park is up for sale ... again.

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