Newsom Administration Rolls out Vaccine Equity Framework, Ties Equitable Vaccine Distribution to Blueprint for a Safer Economy

This week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a significant policy change relative to COVID-19 vaccine allocation and administration aimed at increasing vaccine distribution to the most severely impacted communities. Under the new approach, the state will dedicate 40 percent of all COVID-19 vaccine doses to disadvantaged communities, as determined by the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index (HPI). The 40 percent carve-out of the vaccines will exist within the state’s existing approach of allocating 70 percent of vaccines based on age and 30 percent of vaccines based on employment sectors.

As part of this approach, the state will be modifying the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to incorporate the vaccine equity metric. Once the state delivers two million doses to the lowest HPI quartile, the Blueprint will be updated to allow slightly higher case rates per 100,000, allowing counties to move to less restrictive tiers. To date, the state has administered approximately 1.6 million doses to the lowest HPI quartile. It is estimated the state will reach two million doses to this quartile within the next two weeks. Once four million doses have been administered to this quartile, the Blueprint will again be updated, loosening restrictions on allowable activities based on Blueprint tiers.

The Governor’s Office released a press statement from leaders and advocates statewide, including CSAC President and Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, applauding the Newsom Administration’s move to prioritize equitable distribution of vaccines. A fact sheet on the announcement from the Governor’s Office is available here and a press release on the new approach is also available here.

To support the Newsom Administration’s new vaccine equity approach, the California Department of Finance (DOF) released a memorandum detailing two efforts which will have fiscal implications for the state. First, the Administration intends to expend up to $60 million to make available funding to onboard and support providers using the MyTurn vaccination system. The expenditure is anticipated to improve accuracy and timeliness of data reporting, as well as provide for appointment reservations to eligible individuals living in the lowest HPI quartile. Additionally, the Administration anticipates expending up to $30 million for vaccine navigators and trusted messengers to increase vaccine take-up among communities most significantly impacted by the pandemic. The investment will build upon the recently awarded community outreach grants supported by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS).