New plan moves people with disabilities to front of COVID vaccine line
Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media and ONME Newswire
Producer host Julia Dudley Najieb reviewed the incomplete data regarding Black and Brown deaths; yet, the data reveals the clear disparities among these two groups, according to the featured speakers from an EMS briefing earlier this month.
In California, 55 percent of COVID deaths are LatinX people, according to data recently
released by the Department of Public Health. In New York, South Asians have the highest
rates of positivity and hospitalization among Asians, second only to Hispanics for positivity
and Blacks for hospitalization. Chinese patients had the highest mortality rate of all groups
and were nearly 1.5 times more likely to die than Whites.
Across the U.S., Black people account for 39 percent of COVID deaths, and the Native
American community has almost double the mortality rates of Whites, according to CDC
data. COVID death rates spotlight the gaping inequities in COVID health care and
hospitalizations. Moreover, at-risk ethnicities have not been prioritized for vaccine
The speakers featured in the above podcast discuss the gaps in health equity amid the COVID-19 pandemic:
Dr. Turner-Lloveras is an founding member of Latino Coalition Against COVID-19. He graduated from The University of Southern California with a B.A. In Interdisciplinary Studies and received his medical degree from The University of Chicago – Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed his residency training in Internal Medicine at NewYork Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center.
Lloveras said there are only 20 states in the Unites States right now that are sharing racial data related to those taking the vaccines.
"This is something that needs to be corrected. If we are unable to quantify the disparity there is no way to solve the problem...All states must report the racial data so that we can make the appropriate intervention to find a way for those who need it the most ..."
Lloveras continued saying it is Black and Latinos who are dying, and who need to be at the table when the decisions are being made.
He also said that of those who receive the vaccine, a small percent are Black and the percent infected is higher in these state: Delaware, Louisiana, and Mississippi. He suggested having virtual town halls in every neighborhood to have those discussions. The Kaiser Family Foundation has played a big role in presenting the available racial data; a petition in being started that this data be shared.
Virginia Hendrick is the Executive Director of the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health and a member of the Yurok Tribe. She revealed what is happening to tribes in California affected by this coronavirus
Dr. David M. Carlisle is the President and CEO of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. Dr. Carlisle serves as a volunteer physician at the Venice Family Clinic and is a member of its Foundation Board. Dr. Carlisle is a Professor in Public Health and Medicine at CDU. Dr. Carlisle graduated from Wesleyan University. He earned his MD from Brown University, his Master of Public Health and his Ph.D. from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Carlisle gave a visual presentation revealing alarming death-rate data among Black and Brown COVID-19 deaths.
He also revealed his disgust with the New York Times regarding the "Killer King," comment which he said is an unfair, discriminatory statement.
Adam Carbullidois the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations. He served for over 8 years in the United States House of Representatives, most recently as the Chief of Staff to Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting.
He discussed the high deaths in the Asian community overall--there experience is not recognized in the data presented on a national level. He also said that the data collection needs to be standardized across the nation to produce more accurate results.
Another vulnerable population criticizes the State's vaccine roll-out
Another vulnerable population is calling out that state for its discriminatory vaccine roll-out: on Feb. 12, after disability rights activists had blasted the state’s vaccine rollout for weeks, California officials made an announcement that might cool their criticisms.
Health officials announced that people suffering from COVID-19 co-morbidities or who are at higher risk of dying from the disease because of other medical conditions will be eligible for vaccination in March.
“Beginning March 15, healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19,” read the California Department of Public Health bulletin.
According to the updated guidelines, beginning next month, healthcare providers can vaccinate individuals with certain high-risk underlying medical conditions, including cancer, chronic kidney disease at stage 4 or above, chronic pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, immunocompromised state from an organ transplant, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies (excluding hypertension), severe obesity and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The guidelines also include individuals with developmental disabilities or other severe-high risk disabilities for whom catching COVID-19 will limit their ability to receive ongoing care vital to their well-being, or for whom providing adequate and timely COVID care would be particularly challenging.
Officials estimate that the change will open eligibility to 4 to 6 million more people once it goes into effect, bringing the total amount of eligible Californians from an estimated 17 million to 19 million people. According to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, implementation and verification details were still being sorted out as of Feb. 12.
Previously, Gov. Gavin Newsom had announced that the state would shift to an age-based eligibility structure after the current Phase 1a and 1b tiers, which prioritize healthcare workers, certain essential workers and older Californians. The announcement was met with criticism from multiple disability rights advocates, who were concerned that younger people with disabilities would remain de-prioritized even though they were high-risk.
At the beginning of February, the state launched a high-level task force which included members from the departments of Aging, Disability Services and Health and Human Services, to determine logistics for how Californians with disabilities and underlying health conditions would be prioritized, based on a proposal by the state’s vaccine advisory committee. The task force had announced that it would make its official recommendation in a meeting last week.
Andy Imparato of Disability Rights California, who also serves on the state’s vaccine advisory committee, said, “There’s no question that there’s going to be a lot of challenges, but there’s also no question that this new policy is dramatically better. This creates a safety valve for people under 65 who have a high morbidity risk from COVID.”
Several disability rights advocates held a conference Feb. 10, before the eligibility change announcement, calling for a plan to give people living with disabilities access to the vaccines sooner.
“We are waiting for that specific plan, we believe we can make that plan happen. There are a lot of resources in the disability community to make that plan work very seamlessly,” said Judy Mark, president of Disability Voices United.