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As LA County Expands Vaccination Eligibility, We Look At The Ethical Issues In California’s Rollout

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 10: Tyrone Valiant, 73, receives a Band-Aid after being administered a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by a healthcare worker outside the Los Angeles Mission located in the Skid Row community on February 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. The Los Angeles Department of Health's Housing for Health division administered the doses to a select group of eligible people including unhoused seniors. Skid Row is home to thousands of people who either live on the streets or in shelters for the homeless. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Tyrone Valiant, 73, receives a Band-Aid after being administered a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by a healthcare worker outside the Los Angeles Mission located in the Skid Row community on February 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Many essential workers, teachers and emergency service workers are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County— though supplies remain constrained, and ethical issues abound.

Many essential workers, teachers and emergency service workers are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County— though supplies remain constrained, and ethical issues abound. 

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that vaccine codes intended to help residents of hard-hit Black and Latino neighborhoods access the vaccine were being swapped in the group texts of wealthy, work-from-home individuals. The scandal is just the latest in a vaccine rollout that has raised perpetual ethical questions about who should access the vaccine first. Disability advocates expressed dismay earlier this year when the state announced an age-based model for distribution, which meant that people with high-risk medical conditions would have to wait longer to receive the vaccine. Within LA County, vaccine distribution disparities are stark; in Beverly Hills, 25% of residents have received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine, whereas just 5% have in Compton. County health officials say this is due to long-standing inequities in healthcare access.

Today on AirTalk, we’re learning more about the ethical issues involved in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Have you been offered the vaccine under dubious or potentially unethical circumstances? What do you think of California’s rollout? We want to hear from you! Comment below or give us a call at 866-893-5722.

With guest host Libby Denkmann

Guests:

Carla Javier, KPCC/LAist reporter; she tweets

Alyssa Burgart, M.D., bioethicist and pediatric anesthesiologist at Stanford University, and is on a vaccine advisory committee for the California Department of Health advocating for people with serious medical conditions; she tweets

Jennifer James, researcher at UCSF Bioethics and assistant professor at UCSF’s Institute for Health & Aging; she tweets

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