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    Making Sure Vaccines Are Available for Everyone

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    On February 16, 2021, the Biden Administration through FEMA, and Governor Newsom through the California Office of Emergency Services, together with local leaders, opened the first of 100 mass vaccination sites that will open throughout the country at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. The Coliseum site provides a way to meet a glaring community need.  It is vital to take action to expand access to vaccination, especially for some of our hardest-hit communities that have been left behind.

    It is well-established that the Black and Latinx communities, which have among the highest rates of suffering with COVID-19, have among the lowest rates of vaccination. Both in California and in other parts of the country, the vaccine has not been equitably distributed in the community.

    Thus, we have been working—in a coalition including city and county leaders, along with community stakeholders, and now also state and federal officials, and other vital partners—to push for and implement meaningful solutions to the inequities in the distribution. 

    For example, many vaccination sites have limited access to be drive-in only, so that people have to arrive by car to use the site. Limiting access only to those with cars tends to limit access only to people with more privilege. We were pleased to be able to work with both BART and AC Transit, as well as state and federal leaders, to resolve this. The Oakland Coliseum site includes access for pedestrians, people arriving from BART and AC Transit, along with extra special transit shuttles, provided by AC Transit, to improve direct access to the site for underserved communities.

    We have also worked to advocate for more direct outreach and distribution in partnership with local community-based organizations, and greater ease of access for those who do not have technological means to use online signup systems.

    The Oakland Coliseum site will improve the distribution of the COVID vaccines in Alameda County. The site is planned to give 6,000 vaccines a day. Most importantly, the site is located at the center of the neighborhoods with the highest COVID positive rates, making it accessible for the most affected communities. Portions of vaccines are directed to organizations in communities of concern in the effort to help in terms of rates of vaccination. 

    In addition to the Coliseum site, there will also be two mobile vaccination vehicles that will go out into the community to increase the impact of the site.

    The coronavirus pandemic is continuing to harm our community, and we must keep working to improve access to healthcare, including vaccination, to improve the inequities and reduce suffering throughout our communities.

    To sign up to be notified when vaccination is available, go to https;//myturn.ca.gov or call 1-833-422-4255.

    Councilmember At-Large and Council President Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016 and 2020. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( https://twitter.com/Kaplan4Oakland ) and Facebook  ( https://www.facebook.com/Kaplan4Oakland/ ).

    Published on February 25, 2021