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Bay Area leaders push for more equitable vaccine distribution

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Bay Area legislators and community leaders say the state’s new equity plan leaves out many people it’s meant to help.

The plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in more than 400 zip codes only includes 10 Bay Area zip codes and it leaves out hard-hit neighborhoods like East San Jose and the Mission and Bayview Districts in San Francisco.

It has to do with the metric used by the state.

The metric was based on income, education levels, and healthcare but local leaders say it doesn’t account for gentrification and the huge disparities in these neighborhoods.

They had a call with the governor’s office Monday and say there should be changes to the plan sometime Tuesday.

While the state’s new equity plan, designed to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to underserved communities sounds great on the surface, Bay Area lawmakers quickly found flaws when they noticed many hard-hit regions were left out.

The plan, announced last week, would reserve 40% of the state’s vaccine supply to vulnerable residents across 446 zip codes.

“How do you deal with vulnerable populations in LA or the Central Valley without shortchanging similar hard-hit areas that are in the Bay Area whether it be the East San Jose or the Mission or East Palo Alto or Oakland? I mean you can’t say that’s any less important,” Senator Dave Cortese said. 

Senator Dave Cortese who represents Santa Clara County is one of several legislators calling on changes to the governor’s plan which based zip code priority on the health places index — One that’s based on household income, education, and health care.

Community leaders like Jon Jacobo of the Latino Task Force in San Francisco’s Mission District say the list doesn’t account for gentrification and disparities.

“They’re invisibilizing the pain that is happening in some of these hard-hit areas. In the Mission district if you look at it just by zip code 30,000 feet up you think wow really a lot of well-to-do people that make a lot of money. What you’re not seeing is that there are fix, six, seven people in a one-bedroom or making under $50,000 a year living next door one person in a two-bedroom who’s making maybe $180,000 a year and that is actually the crux of why we’ve seen such high rates of infection in the Mission District,” Jacobo said.

The city’s data of COVID cases broken down by neighborhood — You’ll see neighborhoods in dark green have the highest infection rates. 

Among them are the Mission District, Bayview Hunters Point, and Portola all of which were excluded from the state’s list.

Senator Cortese hopes calls to the governor’s office on Monday will change that.

“The hope is within the next 24 hours, that’s the commitment from the Governor’s office that they would come back with some kind of adjustment that takes care of the areas that seem to be missing in action right now and missing from the rollout,” Cortese said. 

Only two zip codes here in San Francisco made it on the state’s list. Those are the Tenderloin and Treasure Island.

Three zip codes in Alameda County, all in Oakland, four zip codes in Solano County, and one in Contra Costa County also made the state’s original list.

None in San Jose where we know a lot of other hard hit communities are.

There’s hope that will all change come Tuesday in anticipated changes to the governor’s plan.

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