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Vaccine inequality: 4 times more white people vaccinated than Latinx people in Riverside County

A major disparity in Riverside County is coming to light with who is getting access to Covid-19 vaccinations.

Public health officials say the number of white people getting vaccinated in the county is nearly 4 times that of the Latinx population.

"I can tell you that it's not great right now," said Dr. Kim Saruwatari, director of public health. She answered questions about vaccine equity in last week's Coachella city council meeting.

"It's Caucasians with cars and computers that have been able to access vaccines and that's now how we want the system to work," Saruwatari said.

Across the county so far, 11 percent of white people have been vaccinated, Saruwatari said. That's compared to just 3 percent of the Latinx population, and 5 percent of the Black community.

"It really goes against the core of public health because everything we do centers around equity," Saruwatari said.

County officials attribute the disparity in part to the groups currently eligible for vaccination skewing more white, healthcare workers and those age 65 or older. But they said they recognize there's more work to be done.

"Open to ideas," Saruwatari told Coachella city council. "If people have other ideas on how to minimize this, I would love to hear them."

Coachella councilmember Megan Beaman-Jacinto said the vaccine equity issues are no surprise, given already existing public health disadvantages for communities of color.

"Communities of color have had much higher death rates," Beaman-Jacinto said. "Now we're also seeing despite that they're dying more frequently and becoming ill more frequently, they're also being less frequently vaccinated."

While the county is carrying out targeted vaccination clinics for groups like farmworkers, Beaman-Jacinto said more needs to be done to balance vaccine inequalities.

"Our communities just aren't being reached at the rate that they deserve," she said.

County officials said they're discussing limiting vaccine clinics to certain zip codes. They're also working to partner with community organizations to better reach communities of color.

Coronavirus / News Headlines / Top Stories

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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