Vaccine appointment codes set aside for Black, Latino communities hijacked by wealthy

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A state program that's meant to make COVID-19 vaccines more available to Californians who live in under-served communities is being hijacked by some people who are better off.

That program provides special codes to residents of mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods that help them make vaccination appointments.

But the Los Angeles Times reports that many of those codes are now being circulated among wealthier people who've been working at home during the pandemic -- with some of them actually driving to a vaccination site near East LA to get the shots.

The program is designed to set aside a block of appointments every day at Cal State L.A. and the Oakland Coliseum, according to an email sent to community partners from the director of the Office of Access and Functional Needs at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

The appointments are supposed exclusively available with a specific code, intended for use by people in communities of color, those over 65, healthcare workers, and those finding difficulty getting an appointment. The codes are meant to change periodically based on usage, according to the email.

A source of the Times says they received a screenshot of a message with a seven-digit access code and a link to the My Turn website Tuesday morning reading: “Apparently it’s a new testing site that is ‘testing out their system’ for a few days before they open up appointments for the elderly and sick, etc. Anyone can sign up if there are appointments available. Give it a try!”

It’s not known how that outside of the system got the codes, but the state is now attempting to protect the equity of the program.