By Heather Janssen

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Saturday helped a weekend push for vaccine equity as different clinics target demographics often underserved and try to close the equity gap seen statewide.

California has talked about vaccine equity for months, but data shows communities of color are still trailing far behind.

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Robert Ellis took advantage of a Saturday shot and close clinic to get his first dose.

“Being able to just pop up was so convenient for me,” Ellis said.

He said the clinic made it easier for him to get his vaccine and for a thousand others the same day. But Ellis said he hopes to see more.

“Resources for everyone should be equal,” Ellis said, talking about how more privileged communities have more available. “Resources are better and at the same time, once we get those resources – it’s kind of feels like a setup.”

Across the state, data shows a majority of those, nearly 40% of those who have at least received one dose, are white. Narrowing the numbers down in Sacramento County shows the same story. In Sacramento County, only about 6% of those vaccinated are Black, while the area’s Latinx community sees about 10% vaccinated. Asian Americans sit at around 17%. The state’s COVID-19 data collection says American Indian’s count for only .5% of vaccinations in Sacramento County.

Across every region in the greater Sacramento region, white communities dominate vaccine data.

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“There’s a lot of fear we need to overcome,” said Guadalupe Avila Kirwin, who volunteered her weekend to inoculate mostly Latinx members at a Natomas clinic.

Liliana Ferrer, the Consul General of Mexico in Sacramento, talked about some of the issues plaguing communities of color – specifically the Latinx population. It’s this community that saw the most infections and most deaths statewide.

“Those that work 7 days a week sometimes – don’t have access to computers or cell phones,” said Ferrer. “But most importantly those impacted by COVID-19 the most.”

Sacramento Councilmember Mai Vang coordinates weekly clinics in her South Sacramento district, including one of the county’s zip codes hardest hit by COVID. Her team battles language barriers in the community by incorporating translators and added grassroots education to counter the inequity statistics.

“We can have the supply,” said Vang. “But if we don’t have the infrastructure, the trusted messengers on the ground – this isn’t going to work.”

Also on the ground, Dr. Kawanaa Carter who cares for the Del Paso Heights neighborhood. Her site popped up back in February and has vaccinated nearly 8,000 people thus far. 73% of them, she says, are people of color. Dr. Carter often puts time into going door to door to educate others and makes sure the shots don’t go to waste.

“People always feel better having those conversations on their own turf,” Dr. Carter said and advocated for more to be done. “We have to start having really hard conversations to learn why minorities are fearful.”

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Fear and lack of access continue to be contributing factors to seemingly stagnant statistics for equity across the state. Now many counties in the greater Sacramento region, like Stanislaus County, for example, plan to utilize mobile clinics to meet people where they are.

Heather Janssen