California clinics: More vaccines going to rich than at-risk

Coronavirus

Edward Muro gets a shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Tustin, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California’s governor says a commitment to equity is driving his administration’s centralized approach to vaccinating residents.

But community health centers say they’ve watched as initial shipments of the coronavirus vaccine went to larger hospitals, leaving their high-risk patients to wait.

Community health centers in California care for the more than 7 million largely low-income people whom Gov. Gavin Newsom and others say they want to reach.

The centers are in areas with higher concentrations of poverty and fewer providers who take Medicaid.

Dr. Efrain Talamantes is chief operating officer for AltaMed Health Services, in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

He says his patients and staff are often an afterthought despite the emphasis on equity.

Most states are grasping for ways to distribute limited vaccine supply, resulting in a hodgepodge of methods in the absence of a federal plan.

Tennessee is among the states dispensing doses based on county populations, while California allocates them by eligible groups including teachers and farmworkers.

The free-for-all has allowed people with the most resources to score scarce vaccinations.

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