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California Debates Speed vs. Equity in Vaccine Distribution Plan

KQED: California Debates Speed vs. Equity in Vaccine Distribution Plan (January 21, 2021)

An ambitious plan tailored to deliver coronavirus vaccines to California’s most vulnerable populations is fraying under pressure to simplify and speed up the state’s rocky vaccination rollout. With a scarce vaccine supply and a mounting death toll, the tension between equity and efficiency is increasing. “We have been so caught up in some of the minutia, honestly, of ‘What sectors? In which phase?’ ” said Denny Chan, senior staff attorney at Justice in Aging. “But we don’t seem to be spending the same amount of time and consideration on thinking through how you’re going to get to those people ultimately in the end.”

The state is working on different ways to operationalize equity. It is developing outreach strategies for vulnerable communities and may direct a certain percentage of vaccines to seniors in low-income neighborhoods based on the state’s Healthy Places Index, which measures access to safe housing, education and health care by ZIP code.

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