Oakland’s Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Treva Reid Call on FEMA and California Leadership to Make COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Equitable
Oakland (February 24, 2021) — Oakland’s Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Treva Reid (District 7 / East Oakland) sent a letter to State and Federal officials to seek immediate action to remedy the inequities that have arisen in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. In their letter to the combined State/Federal leadership of the mass vaccination program Kaplan and Reid wrote:
“We believe by now you have likely heard the numerous reports, including those in the media, detailing the dramatic inequity in the vaccination programs for the coronavirus vaccine. Communities with the most privilege are getting the highest proportion of the vaccination appointments, while the hardest hit communities, suffering the worst of the COVID-19 impacts and harms, are receiving the least amounts of the vaccine. This includes that overwhelmingly predominantly African American communities are being left behind, along with some Latino communities as well.
When State and Federal leaders responded to our call to help remedy these inequities by bringing large numbers of vaccines to the Oakland Coliseum site — a location that is on public transit and close to many of the hardest hit communities – State and Federal leaders told us and the press that the purpose of opening this site was to serve the very communities that need it the most – including those in the surrounding East Oakland and Fruitvale neighborhoods. In addition, we were promised that mobile deployment, in partnership with community sites, would also be part of the plan and the implementation, to make sure to have equitable and effective distribution.
Unfortunately, these intentions have not yet been fulfilled. And they must be provided — as many in our communities are still being left behind. Nearly all of the problems worsening the inequities have been linked to the use by the State of a malfunctioning software system called “MyTurn” — which the State is insisting be used for making appointments for vaccinations. The system has crashed, in particular has lost function for the community based sites, and has proven difficult and unreliable.”
Kaplan and Reid ask the State to:
“1) Change the geographic area that is used in the online signup system, to only provide appointments at the Coliseum site to residents of the target areas (either through zip code targeting or by limiting the radius to no more than 15 miles).
2) Provide funding for community based organizations to undertake the work to reach community members to sign them up for vaccinations. Provide support for having personnel who can themselves be at a computer, and can enter information over the phone for community members who do not have computer access. Ensure those CBO staff entering this data will have access to sufficient vaccine appointments to utilize.
3) Ensure access to an online signup system that works reliably, including for the CBO signup system. There exist other signup systems besides MyTurn, which do appear to function.
4) Give CBO teams and under-served communities access to appointments further in advance, so people can be signed up with enough lead time to be able to make arrangements to get there.
5) Provide a daily allocation of vaccine (not less than 500 doses per day) to the system to serve smaller community based sites, homeless encampments, and other similar underserved areas through the mobile vans (in partnership with Alameda County Health).”
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan represents the entire City of Oakland as Councilmember at-large, and is Chair of the Coliseum Vaccination Task Force.
Council member Treva Reid represents District 7, East Oakland — where the Oakland Coliseum is located, and is also a leader on the Task Force.
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