URGENT Need for COVID-19 Vaccinations for the underserved City of San Fernando, CA.

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The residents of the City of San Fernando, California need your urgent leadership to get our population of approximately 25,000 vaccinated as soon as possible.  San Fernando has had the worst case rate in Los Angeles County since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet we have been denied vaccines for our residents.  We invite you to visit our City, and the surrounding communities, to see first-hand what we experience every day.

San Fernando is an overwhelmingly Latino (93.2%) working class community with large households and many essential workers that are on the frontlines at grocery stores, maintenance jobs, food services, manufacturing and other essential positions.  Our essential workers often do not have access to adequate healthcare, transportation, and other necessities that keep residents safe.

Every major newspaper, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, have written about how the northeast San Fernando Valley suffers from grossly inadequate vaccine resources and the most devastating infection rates, deaths and disproportionate health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.  To date, only 17% of San Fernando’s residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine.  San Fernando is more than 40% less than the average vaccination rate in Los Angeles County, yet we have the worst COVID-19 positivity rate and public health crisis in the State. This is a health equity injustice.

A COVID-19 concentration map published by the New York Times on January 29, 2021 (In Los Angeles, the Virus is Pummeling Those Who Can Least Afford to Fall Ill by Jill Cowan and Matthew Bloch) clearly illustrates that San Fernando, and the northeast San Fernando Valley, are the epicenter of the most impacted communities in Los Angeles County!  The surrounding Latino neighborhoods of Mission Hills (7th), Pacoima (10th), Sylmar (11th), and Arleta (14th) are also all in the Top 25 of highest case rates. 

We want to turn this around, with your help, and begin to save the lives of innocent, hardworking people who deserve the opportunity to keep their families safe from the negative health, economic and social consequences that accompany the COVID-19 infection.

On March 3rd, the state communicated an opportunity to provide our community with priority codes to get vaccinated. The City of San Fernando acted quickly to relay that opportunity and established a registration portal for our residents. In less than 48 hours, we received requests for more than 5,500 vaccine codes for local household and family members.  The dramatic response received in such a short amount of time illustrates how San Fernando residents are desperate to get their vaccine.

Then, after you announced your policy to “set aside 40 percent of vaccine doses for the hardest-hit communities,” your Office of Emergency Services denied an opportunity to display leadership and get the vaccine into the hands of those that need it most.  Officials from the Governor’s Office, CalOES, and Los Angeles County Public Health stated that there was a miscommunication about the opportunity for vaccination codes and that the City’s residents who registered would not receive them.

The City of San Fernando is best positioned to organize our community and get vaccines where they are most needed, yet we have been denied.   This directly contradicts your statement on March 4, 2021 announcing that, “the state will accomplish these goals by doubling the allocation for disproportionately-impacted communities (allotting 40 percent to them) as compared to the rest of the state; reserving appointments for members of communities severely impacted by the pandemic.” 

Now, we are left asking, “what do we need to do to get your administration to increase vaccines for disproportionately-impacted communities like San Fernando?”

The City of San Fernando is ready to assist in distributing vaccine resources to the most vulnerable in our state.  We demand that you make good on your promise to reserve appointments and vaccines for members of the communities severely impacted by the pandemic. As each day passes, unequal access becomes not just a public health crisis, but a civil rights injustice.

We ask that you come to San Fernando and address the disparities our region is facing.  We look forward to working with you to accomplish our mutual goal of urgently saving lives.