When It Comes to COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, Los Angeles County has Failed

On Monday, February 22, the Los Angeles Times published an article titled “Vaccine access codes for hard-hit Black, Latino communities improperly used in other L.A. areas,” highlighting the ways in which access codes that were provided to seniors in disproportionately affected communities were being misused by wealthy Angelenos.

 

Because Latino and Black communities have been hit the hardest by COVID-19 in L.A. county and are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than wealthy residents in affluent neighborhoods, the state set up this program to provide access codes that could be used to secure a vaccination appointment. However, once these access codes were released, they got into the hands of those the program was purposely not designed for, those who have the means to work from home and are not experiencing much higher rates of COVID-19 in their communities.

 

Many low-income Los Angeles County residents do not have the luxury of working from home, isolating themselves in their own rooms, or even missing a week of work to quarantine. Black and Latino L.A. County seniors who live in low-income areas are eager to get the vaccine, not so they can travel or so they can attend parties, but so they do not have to miss weeks of work or expose the members of their household to the virus.

 

These “vaccine chasers,” many of which come from wealthy neighborhoods and aren’t risking exposure to COVID-19 because they are able to work from home, are completely dismissive of the purpose of the access code program and are willing to take the spot of some of the most vulnerable L.A. county residents.

 

This is not the first time we have seen something like this occur. For some of these same residents, even getting a COVID-19 test is extremely difficult, yet many wealthy celebrities and influencers, such as Kim Kardashian and Nikita Dragun, have access to large quantities of rapid tests, which they use before letting in guests to their large parties or going on vacation.

 

In another article published by the Los Angeles Times titled “Why wealthy spots like Beverly Hills, San Marino have the highest COVID vaccination rates,” reveals the disparities between the communities who have the highest rates of vaccinations versus those who have been hit the hardest, and not surprising, the wealthier the neighborhood, the more likely its residents are vaccinated.

 

Black and Latino communities in low-income areas of Los Angeles County have felt some of the most devastating impacts of the pandemic, so when a program is finally designed to directly help seniors in their communities get much-needed vaccination appointments is abused by L.A. residents in wealthy neighborhoods who can work from home, it is yet another defeat in the battle against COVID-19. This lack of empathy and the acknowledgment of privilege is extremely disheartening to see almost a year into the pandemic.