California will begin setting aside 40 percent of all vaccine doses for people who live in the most vulnerable neighborhoods in an effort to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly.
The doses will be spread among 400 ZIP codes where there are about 8 million people eligible for shots, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary. Many of the neighborhoods are concentrated in Los Angeles County and the central valley, which have had among the highest rates of infection. The areas are considered most vulnerable based on metrics such as household income, education level, housing status and access to transportation.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said at a Thursday news briefing that not only is this the right thing to do, but it’s critical to opening up more of the state’s economy.
“It is a race against the variants. It’s a race against exhaustion. It’s a race to safely, thoughtfully open our economy, mindful that it has to be an economy that doesn’t leave people behind, that is truly inclusive,” he said, adding that he’s also encouraging people to wear two masks.
The announcement is the latest change in an ever-evolving system to get California’s nearly 40 million residents vaccinated, adding to ongoing confusion among people who just want to know when they can get the shot. The move to ease reopening standards also comes days after several Republican-led states announced they were lifting COVID-19 restrictions as the U.S. now has three vaccines available.