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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Injustice

Data Analysis Shows Inequity In Vaccine Rollout

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The San Diego Union-Tribune analyzed data that show that San Diegans of Latino, Black and Asian descent are being vaccinated at lower rates than their white counterparts.

Speaker 1: 00:00 New data reveals San Diego's hardest hit communities are facing barriers to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. And it's more than just hesitancy the numbers. Highlight inequity in the rollout biotech reporter, Jonathan Busan, along with Andrea Lopez via Fanya filed the report in the San Diego union Tribune. Jonathan joins us with details. Jonathan welcome.

Speaker 2: 00:22 Thank you for having me. So your report

Speaker 1: 00:24 Analyzed the rate of vaccination among different ethnic groups in the County. Walk me through your, uh, primary takeaways on that.

Speaker 2: 00:32 So one of the primary takeaways was that even if you account for who can get the vaccine, who's eligible in San Diego right now, you still see that people of color are getting vaccinated, lower rates. So essentially we took a look at the county's data on their dashboard. We did our best to get data on who can get the vaccine right now, people 65 and up people in the healthcare field. And even when you account for eligibility, you can see that Hispanic or Latino San Diegans, uh, patients are getting vaccinated at somewhat lower rates than white residents, uh, and the black or African-American people are getting vaccinated at even lower rates. So even when you correct for this question of who can get the shot at the people who actually are getting the shot tend to be wider than you would expect.

Speaker 1: 01:20 And these groups are also the most impacted by COVID having the highest rates of hospitalization and death. Why are they bearing the brunt of this

Speaker 2: 01:28 Virus? So there are a few things going on there. You know, we know this is the virus where it helps to be wearing a mask to be socially distant from people. And if you're doing a job where you can't actually be six feet apart, or if you're living in multi-generational households where you have contact with relatives who might be older and more vulnerable, because they have certain pre-existing conditions, you know, those are all, some of the reasons why we've seen consistently, for example, that about 55, sometimes close to 60% of COVID cases have been among people who are Hispanic or Latino, even though they're only about a third of the County. So that pattern of, uh, communities of color being a hard hit has been pretty consistent over the past year. Basically

Speaker 1: 02:13 We talked about vaccine hesitancy among people of color on midday, but it's not the only issue leading to these lower rates of vaccination. Talk to me about that.

Speaker 2: 02:22 Yeah. Well, one of the main issues beyond being hesitant or being willing to get the shot, it was actually knowing how and where you can get it. And that's been, I think, confusing for a lot of San Diegans of all backgrounds, but you know, the fact that to sign up for a vaccine appointment, you generally need a computer because you have to go to my turn. You have to go through any of these online systems for the 20 plus vaccine sites that we have. So if you don't have a computer or if you're not comfortable using one, if you have language barriers, so maybe you don't speak English, maybe speak Spanish, or one of the, you know, dozens of languages, especially in our refugee community. Then basic information that the rest of us take for granted about who can get the vaccine, even knowing what the vaccine is and then how to actually go about making those appointments. You know, those, those are all, some of the barriers. So technology language, and there is still to be fair. There is still some lingering hesitancy among people who are kind of in a wait and see mode, as far as how these vaccines will affect people.

Speaker 1: 03:29 How do the location of these vaccines sites, uh, impact the numbers?

Speaker 2: 03:35 So that's one of the things that I think in general, people have said, the County has done a decent job of putting in place more than 20 vaccine sites throughout the County, including the Superstation and Chula Vista. That's being run by sharp at a former Sears department store. And we stopped by there basically the other week and saw that a number of the people who were getting vaccinated were from Chula Vista were from nearby that area. Of course, you also have people who are trying to make appointments and going wherever they can get them. Uh, but there have been, you know, there are several sites in the South Bay, there's the sideshow Vesta, there's a site at Tubman Chavez. There's going to be some vaccination happening at the Malcolm X library, uh, this week as well. So the County is trying to create this infrastructure where you can get a shot, you know, closest to where you're at right now, but then you still have to be able to secure that appointment, which not everybody is able to do as easily. Okay.

Speaker 1: 04:35 For a lot of people, the lack of transportation is still a barrier to getting vaccinated, right?

Speaker 2: 04:40 Yeah. That's, that's still a barrier. And you know, even though technically, if you do have a vaccine appointment, you can get a free ride on MTS. You know, if it's a matter of taking three buses to get to your vaccine appointment, as, as one of the doctors I was talking to for the story you mentioned, uh, that's going to be a challenge. So there are certain groups that Chicano Federation, for example, has launched a call center to help Spanish speaking residents make appointments. And, uh, they're also offering transportation for people who don't have transportation. I spoke with Alliance health clinic, which mainly serves the refugee community as well as low-income San Diego ones. They're doing vaccination on a small scale. So we're talking about, about 250 doses so far. So they've also been offering transportation, transportation for folks who need it. And I think that's one of the things that ultimately is as also as you pointed out a barrier. So there are groups that are trying to help with that piece of things too.

Speaker 1: 05:42 And you mentioned earlier those over 65 healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are eligible for the vaccine right now, when can we expect people with preexisting conditions to be added to that list?

Speaker 2: 05:54 So the state of California said on that as of March 15th, people who have serious pre-existing conditions, as well as disabilities will be eligible for the vaccine. So it sounds like we're about a month away from that. You know, if you have hypertension, diabetes, obesity, a number of other conditions that the state is spelled out, you may be able to get the vaccine by mid-March regardless of your age.

Speaker 1: 06:24 Do you think expanding the eligibility, uh, in that way would, uh, impact the inequities at all?

Speaker 2: 06:32 It should. I, I very likely will because we know that the rates of heart disease or obesity, diabetes, a number of medical conditions, sickle cell, the rates of those different conditions and diseases are higher among people of color. So as we bring in those groups, into the vaccine rollout, you would expect to see those groups represented more among who's. Who's getting their shots as well.

Speaker 1: 06:55 I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter, Jonathan Boosie, and Jonathan, thank you very much.

Speaker 2: 07:01 Joining us anytime [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.