L.A. County Public Health Working to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Gaps

Senior receives his shot. | Photo courtesy of Hilda Solis on Facebook

After receiving demographic data from the state vaccination registry that reflects who is getting vaccinated and where gaps are occurring, officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said they are working to address disparities in distribution.

Data analyzed to date includes doses administered through Feb. 4, and includes vaccinations for healthcare workers, residents and staff at long term care facilities, and residents aged 65 and older who began getting vaccinated on Jan. 20.  

“Shockingly, Black residents have received only 3.5% of all administered doses, highlighting a glaring inadequacy in the vaccine rollout to date,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer

Additionally, about 25% of all vaccine doses were administered to white residents, 25% to Latino/Latinx residents, 18% to Asian residents, and 17% to residents who identify as multi-racial.

Examining data on vaccinations of residents 65 and older indicates that 20% of this age group have received at least one dose of vaccine. However, officials said they are “alarmed by the disproportionality we are seeing in who is receiving the vaccine.” Among this age cohort, 9.3% of vaccines have gone to American Indian/Native Alaskan, 7.2% to Black/ African American, and 14.3% Latino/Latinx residents. These percentages are considerably lower than vaccination rates among the 29.4% of white, 18.2% of Asian and 29.4% of Pacific Islander residents who have been vaccinated.

“This early data shows us that we need to make it much easier for American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/ African American and Latino/Latinx residents and workers to be vaccinated in their communities by providers they trust” Public Health said in a statement Monday. “This is a top priority for the Department of Public Health, and we will continue to work with our community partners to ensure that we are not only getting everyone vaccinated quickly, but we are addressing the need to provide easier access to neighborhood sites and accurate information about the vaccines.”

One of Public Health’s commitments is to increase the number of vaccination sites in hard-hit communities. In total, there are 365 sites offering vaccinations this week. This includes 129 federally qualified health clinics, 208 pharmacies, 16 hospitals, and six community sites run by the City of Los Angeles and county. Ten additional vaccination sites were added this week in East and South L.A., bringing the total number to 49 vaccination sites in these two communities.

Public Health is also working on improving access to the vaccine for people who are older with limited mobility and in need of assistance securing appointments. The department is organizing mobile teams to bring vaccinations directly to seniors living in housing developments or accessing senior centers in hard-hit communities.

“We’ll also have community health workers in the highly impacted communities, who at times may be going block-by-block to provide information to residents about how to get vaccinated, help them sign up and to dispel myths and misinformation about the vaccine,” Ferrer said during a press conference Monday. 

The data revealed that populations that have fared the worst in terms of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are also the ones receiving fewer vaccines.

“This is completely unacceptable,” said L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis. “Frankly, I’m disappointed, and I’m calling on all of us, our departments and our medical providers, to fulfill their responsibility to ensure that the vaccine gets to those who need it the most.”

Scheduling an appointment right now is challenging because of the limited supply of vaccines that the county is receiving on a weekly basis. If you can, visit VaccinateLACounty.com and to find the vaccination site closest to you, click on the MyTurn button where you can see how appointments are made. The MyTurn site also allows you to sign up to be notified when appointments open up, and when vaccinations begin with additional priority groups.  

Additional staff have been assigned to the call center to help those without computer access make appointments. For those without access to a computer or the internet, or with disabilities, the call center is open to help schedule appointments daily from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at (833) 540-0473. The call center uses the same system as the online system and is a low-tech way for those with accessibility needs and older people who may not have a computer or a smart phone, to make an appointment.


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