California uses ZIP codes, outreach to boost vaccine equity

9, Feb 2021 | nepaltraveller.com

San Francisco and other U.S. cities and counties are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely working-class communities.

SAN FRANCISCO

Hing Yiu Chung lives in a racially diverse San Francisco neighborhood hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. While vaccines have been difficult to come by, the 69-year-old got one by showing proof she lives where she does.

She had to wait in line for two hours with other seniors, some who were disabled or leaning on canes, for a chance at a couple hundred shots available each day through a local public health clinic in the Bayview neighborhood.“Fortunately, it wasn’t a cold or rainy day, otherwise it would have been harder,” she said in Chinese.

The experience wasn’t ideal, but targeting vulnerable ZIP codes is one way San Francisco and other U.S. cities and counties are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic. In Dallas, authorities tried to prioritize such ZIP codes, which tended to be communities of color, but backtracked after the state threatened to reduce the city’s vaccine supply.

Nationwide, states are struggling to distribute vaccines equitably even as officials try to define what equity means. They’re debating what risk factors gets someone to the head of the line: those in poverty, communities of color, their job or if they have a disability. Others simply want to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

“We can do a million clinics,” he said, “but if they don’t want to come because they’re afraid or anxious or afraid their information is going to be used as part of immigration enforcement, they’re not going to come to us.”

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