By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– California has instituted new vaccination equity policies in an effort to ensure vaccine doses reach residents in disadvantaged areas by setting aside 40% of available vaccine doses for the state’s hardest-hit communities.
“With more vaccines online and administered, California is now in a position to take steps toward ending this pandemic by keeping our guard up and by vaccinating those Californians most at risk and most exposed,” said Governor Gavin Newsom in a statement. “Vaccinating our most impacted communities, across our state, is the right thing to do and the fastest way to end this pandemic.”
State officials point out that the pandemic has not affected California communities equally. For example, the infection rate for households making less than $40,000 per year is more than double that of households with an income of $120,000. At the same time, California’s wealthiest populations are being vaccinated at nearly twice the rate of the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Local officials note that assisting underserved communities has long been a principal focus for San Bernardino County.
“From the beginning of this pandemic, our County has focused intensively on helping our most severely affected communities, including working to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccines,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “We will continue and even intensify these efforts, including providing vaccinations where they are needed most.”
San Bernardino County has made it a priority to make the vaccines available in hard-hit communities while at the same time encouraging residents to take full advantage of vaccination opportunities. In fact, over 70% of the county’s vaccine distribution sites are located in the 162 identified areas (47 unique zip codes) in the county that make up the bottom 25% of the county (per the HPI Map – California Healthy Places Index).
“In addition to the ‘Our Shot for Hope’ advertising campaign, we’ve established mobile vaccination clinics to give disadvantaged communities better access to the vaccine, and we have targeted much of our communication outreach to increase understanding about the vaccines among our most vulnerable residents,” Hagman said. “We have also partnered with the Inland Empire Concerned African-American Churches (IECAAC) to conduct vaccine clinics at several predominately African American churches in the county.”
With multiple vaccines available and nearly 10 million doses administered statewide, vaccination efforts have contributed to notable improvements in overall disease trends. Case rates, test positivity, transmission rate, hospitalizations and ICU admissions have all declined steadily since the surge late last year. San Bernardino County is among those areas showing widespread improvement and has administered more than 393,000 vaccinations to date.
“We’ve recently seen marked improvements in both our positivity and equity positivity rates, along with significant declines in hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” said County Public Health Director Corwin Porter. “We expect these trends to accelerate as vaccination rates increase and people continue to practice the protective behaviors that reduce transmission of the virus.”