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Hard-Hit California Lags Nation In Vaccinating Vulnerable Residents

California was already one of the states hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, its vaccine distribution process is compounding the problem.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California’s progress in getting coronavirus vaccines to its most vulnerable residents ranks among the worst in the U.S. So far, around 25% of the state’s population has received the first shot, but most of those people belong to less-vulnerable groups.

The CDC report names factors that have been linked to higher coronavirus rates and groups them into a “social vulnerability” index. They include race, education, poverty level and housing, among others. Looking at approximately 49 million shots distributed across the nation between Dec. 14 and March 1, the CDC said that California ranked 44th for vaccinations in the highest socially vulnerable counties.

"The results of this study indicate that COVID-19 vaccination coverage was lower in high vulnerability counties than in low vulnerability counties, a finding largely driven by socioeconomic disparities," the CDC report said.

Early on, California prioritized vaccinations for medical workers, the elderly and residents at highest risk. As the rollout has expanded, however, the state acknowledges that its doses have gone out unevenly and benefited those who needed them less.

The California Department of Public Health says it has a plan to turn the tide and reach its most vulnerable residents.

"With the implementation of the Statewide Vaccine Network, the state will be able to accurately collect data on who has been vaccinated and direct vaccines and resources to communities where vaccinations have lagged," the department said in a statement.

Only Kansas, Maryland, Idaho and New Hampshire ranked lower than California.


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