Black leaders address vaccination efforts in Silicon Valley

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James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” played as a nonprofit founded by local Black leaders opened its second Bay Area town hall to discuss a virus that continues to disproportionately devastate Black Americans.

The panel included Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019 as the state’s first surgeon general, Roots Community Center South Bay director Alma Burrell and Santa Clara County Public Health branch director Rhonda McClinton-Brown.

The discussion comes as California announced that anyone age 50 and up can receive a vaccine starting Thursday. Then in two weeks, on April 15, anyone age 16 and older can get vaccinated. It represents the largest vaccine expansion in the state, but local leaders worry the vaccine still isn’t reaching Black residents and other minorities.

“As we think about opening up eligibility the important question is – how do we maintain equity?” Burke-Harris said. “We have to talk to our communities in language and ways where we know we can see ourselves.”

California’s Department of Public Health will send more doses to communities heavily impacted by COVID-19, she said – identifying them with an interactive map measuring socioeconomic conditions called the Healthy Places Index. It was developed by the Public Health Alliance of Southern California.

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