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California to set aside 40 percent of vaccine doses for areas most at risk
California officials announced Thursday the state will set aside 40 percent of all coronavirus vaccine doses for people living in the most vulnerable neighborhoods who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a press release the state has established a vaccine equity metric to identify vulnerable populations based on factors like household income, education level, housing status and access to transportation.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly told reporters that doses will be spread out among 400 ZIP codes to about 8 million eligible people, The Associated Press reported.
A large portion of the neighborhoods are in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley, which have had higher rates of infections compared to other parts of the state, the AP reported.
"With more vaccines online and administered, California is now in a position to take steps toward ending this pandemic by keeping our guard up and by vaccinating those Californians most at risk and most exposed," Newsom said in a statement.
"Vaccinating our most impacted communities, across our state, is the right thing to do and the fastest way to end this pandemic," he added.
The governor's office said it expects to meet its goal of 2 million doses delivered to the 400 ZIP codes within the next two weeks, with about 1.6 million already delivered to this portion of the state.
Ghaly said a statement that "increasing vaccinations in our hardest-hit communities is both morally right, and good for public health, because it will slow the spread of disease."
The state's top health official went on to say, "By vaccinating more people, and those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, science tells us that the disease should spread more slowly, giving variants fewer opportunities to take hold, and the health care system should be preserved."
The governor's office added that it will continue to promote the wearing of masks, testing and contact tracing, as well as quarantine and isolation for those who have been infected or exposed to the virus.
California on Thursday also updated its guidance on masks by outlining certain instances when residents should consider double masking, such as while indoors with people outside of one's household and in crowded places where social distancing is not possible.