Washington State Allows for White People to Be Put on Vaccine Waitlist Because, You Know, 'Equity'

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Posted: Apr 24, 2021 4:15 PM
Washington State Allows for White People to Be Put on Vaccine Waitlist Because, You Know, 'Equity'

Source: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

The things the government will do in the name of "equity" now entails putting white people on a wait list for a COVID-19 vaccine. Jason Rantz in an opinion piece for 770 KTTH explains how the "WA Dept of Health lets providers deny vaccines to white people for equity." 

Complete with screenshots of the providers, Rantz explains how those wishing to sign up for vaccines online are asked their race. A required questionare from The African American Reach and Teach Health Ministry (AARTH) asks people to confirm if they are "Black, Indigenous or Person of Color (BIPOC)," with the only other option being "No, JOIN THE STANDBY LIST ABOVE. You will be contacted if appointments become available."

The state's Department of Health has been particularly mum about it:

Given repeated opportunities over the course of several days, the state DOH would not directly answer whether or not this practice violates the law. Instead, the DOH repeatedly deflected, arguing that they’re taking necessary steps to provide equitable access to the vaccine. But it’s only equitable access if you have the right skin color.

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State DOH spokespeople refuse to directly answer whether or not vaccine providers may discriminate on the basis of race. They were given four opportunities over email to directly answer the question.

Instead, they frame their race-exclusionary vaccinations policy around prioritizing communities of color. It is DOH policy that white people, or anyone the department deems at less risk than others, “may not be able to participate in a specific event or get an appointment in a specific block of time.”

Spokesperson Franji Mayes told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that they’re looking to connect with communities of color because of “systemic inequities” in health care.

Kristen Maki, another spokesperson, explains “prioritization is designed to address current inequities and barriers to accessing vaccine, and get the people who are at highest risk vaccinated first while federal vaccine supply remains limited.”

But under the current process, an older white person with obesity and cancer is at a higher risk than a young and healthy Black person. Yet the white Washingtonian would be denied access based exclusively on his skin color at AARTH. Why? Because, according to Mayes, “dealing with racism is a stressor that is bad for health and life expectancy.”

Rantz also spoke with AARTH consultant Twanda Hill via his show on KTTH. She was a little bit more forthcoming, but not entirely:

“Part of the reason we ask that is because of the funding that we receive,” AARTH consultant Twanda Hill told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “They want to know. … We have funding because we are able to reach people of color. Federal funding, state funding, county funding. They want to know who are we serving.” 

If you’re a person of color, you can move forward and schedule a vaccine appointment if there is an opening. But if you’re white, you are automatically placed on a standby list. This bars you from continuing the process. AARTH says they will contact the white person if there is an opening.

But this isn’t the only list.

The first list, according to Hill, is a waitlist for people of color, should a vaccine appointment open up. If the waitlist is emptied and vaccine availabilities eventually open up, only then will a white person on the standby list be contacted.

This policy effectively bars white people from accessing taxpayer funded vaccines set up through the state. Hill argues their system isn’t truly exclusionary. A small percentage of white people on the standby list make it through. She also notes that people who lie about their race won’t be turned away.

Hill could not specify which governmental agency AARTH received its funding from for this project. Public Health — Seattle & King County tells the Jason Rantz Show they do not have a contract with AARTH.

Considering how difficult it has been for anyone to sign up for vaccines, we're not holding our breaths for white people who want to get the vaccine, who are just as deserving considering they're also susceptible to COVID and getting seriously sick or dying if they have certain medical concerns.

In a lengthy explainer for Yahoo! News--seriously, it says it's a 15 minute read--Alexander Nazaryan analyzes "Democrats pushed hard for vaccine 'equity' — did they succeed?" Part of that quest for equity has to do with  Biden administration's bumbling efforts:

Given the big challenges and high stakes, some have wondered if the administration’s concern with “equity” — the idea that vaccines should first go to socially vulnerable populations, including people of color and essential workers — is slowing the very effort that Biden is so desperately trying to accelerate. Such critics say that simply getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, instead of trying to engineer social outcomes, would have brought the end of the pandemic closer.

“These efforts are well intentioned but have led to more deaths than would have happened had a simple age-prioritization strategy been universally adopted,” said Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, a health economist at Stanford University. 

Nazaryan also pointed out that "The Biden administration did say that equity would be key. Whether it has actually acted on that imperative is a matter of debate," as he went on to include various expert opinions, including those quite critical of President Joe Biden. 

The vaccine sign-ups above from Washington State apply to a May 1 sign-up.