OC’s vaccine inequity highlighted in new demographic data

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New data in Orange County about who’s been vaccinated (and who hasn’t) is raising questions about how equitable the process has been.

Latinos account for 9% of seniors who have received vaccines so far, but make up more than 15% of OC’s 65-and-older residents. That’s according to the latest demographic information from the county’s health care agency.

“People who could have gotten the vaccine — didn't and passed away,” says LA Times columnist Gustavo Arellano. 

KCRW: Does language factor into barriers of getting a vaccine?

Arellano: “This is the biggest barrier, actually. In Orange County, you need to download an app in order to be able to book an appointment. And for weeks, the app was only in English. Now it's in Spanish [and Vietnamese], and it's supposed to also get translated into Chinese in the next couple of weeks.”

The digital barrier — does the county have options for those who aren’t tech savvy enough to access the app?

“[No.] Whatever happened to a good old 1-800 number? The county can't set one up and have some workers take calls, one by one? If anything, it's another strike against the continued privatization and automation of county government. You're trying to make something as simple and streamlined as possible because that's going to save you money, not because it's going to be convenient.

I understand with a more digitally attuned audience like younger people, but for the older crowd who have never been online, they [the county] have to take that into account.”

Were vaccine sites equitably located?

“It's like a wildfire. You don't start at the edges. You go to where the hot zones are. You have Disneyland in Anaheim, one of the city’s most affected. The second vaccine site was Soka University in Aliso Viejo, which hasn't been as affected.

They should have had at least a smaller one in Santa Ana, which is the city that's been absolutely walloped. Now there's going to be a vaccine center at Valley High School right in the heart of Santa Ana. That's a good step, but you should be thinking of these things from the start instead of being reprimanded almost immediately after the fact.”