New vaccination centers are to open this month in the heart of two urban California communities especially hard hit by the coronavirus, as state and federal officials try to tackle racial and economic disparities hindering U.S. immunization efforts.
Joint plans to launch the two sites on Feb. 16, at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum in Oakland and the California State University campus in east Los Angeles, were detailed separately on Wednesday by Governor Gavin Newsom and the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients.
The two sites, which the state’s Department of Health said will be capable of administering several thousand shots per day each, mark the first of more than 100 such vaccination centers expected to be established in communities of color across the United States, according to Newsom.
“Equity is the call of this moment,” Newsom told reporters outside the Oakland coliseum. “The reason this site was chosen was the framework of making sure that communities that are often left behind are not left behind.”
Black and Hispanic populations, overly represented among the working poor and accounting for a large share of high-risk jobs in food service, factories, warehouses and healthcare, have been ravaged by the pandemic.
They also suffer disproportionately from chronic underlying health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, that put them at higher risk of severe illness if infected by the coronavirus.