The Volokh Conspiracy

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Race Discrimination

California Offering COVID Boosters to 50-to-64-Year-Olds in "Communities of Color"

How about communities of pallor? Looks like they'll have to figure out that they should claim "increased risk due to social inequity."


From (emphasis added):

Booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine are now recommended if you:

  • Got a Pfizer vaccination at least six months ago, and
  • Are 65 or older, or
  • Are a long-term care resident that is 18 or older, or
  • Are 50-64 and have an underlying medical condition, or
  • Are 50-64 and at increased risk due to social inequity (including that of communities of color)

You may also consider getting a booster if you:

  • Are 18-49 and have an underlying medical condition or are at increased risk due to social inequity, or
  • Are 18-64 and work or live in a high-risk setting (like a shelter)
    • The CDC defines high-risk jobs as:
      • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
      • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
      • Food and agriculture workers
      • Manufacturing workers
      • Corrections workers
      • U.S. Postal Service workers
      • Public transit workers
      • Grocery store workers

Click on the "social inequity" link, and you'll see what the California government is getting at: "Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups."

Now you might ask: That's just a recommendation, but is it a requirement? Well, it is if you go to the main California My Turn vaccination site, because there you'll need to answer this question:

Are you in one of the following eligible groups?

  • Resident of a long-term care facility (for example nursing home or assisted living for seniors)
  • At high risk for COVID-19 complications
  • At high risk for COVID-19 exposure due to occupation or institutional setting
  • At increased risk of social inequities (Learn more)

The "learn more" takes you the same link I mentioned above, which makes clear that the government is really interested in "racial and ethnic minority groups." So if you're white and not Hispanic, and you really want to answer the question candidly, the way the state seems to be implying, you'd answer "no," and be told (emphasis in original):

— You are not eligible at this time —

But, hey, aren't we all at increased risk of social inequities of some sort, in some way or another? Plus, wait, aren't white non-Hispanics now a "racial and ethnic minority group" in California? Just check "Yes," check below under "I certify that, to the best of my knowledge, the information submitted in this application is true and accurate," and then you'll get routed to one of the participating immunization centers. That's what it takes to get your health protected, it appears.