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  • Writer's pictureGabriel San Roman

Slingshot: Whites Vaxxed at Twice the Rate of Latinos in OC

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

After a year of pandemic purgatory, I finally awaited my turn at a local pharmacy. A Latina sat across from me and did her 15 minutes of side effects monitoring after getting vaccinated against coronavirus. An elder white man with a mask over his whiskers did the same.

A pharmacist called my name next.

Without any small talk, she rolled up my sleeve, dabbed my shoulder with rubbing alcohol and jabbed me with a needle. I felt nary a pinch, got my band-aid and played Mario Kart on my phone for 15 minutes in the waiting room before leaving. A teenage white kid checked in after me.

In this tiny sliver of Orange County on a recent afternoon, Whites and Latinos enjoyed a small semblance of vaccine equity. But that pharmacy's waiting room was in no way reflective of the county at large.

Ever since Dec. 15, 2020, OC's vaccine rollout has been plagued by ethnic inequities, despite Latinos comprising a disproportionate number of those who've either been infected with Covid-19 or have died from it.

In early February, after the opening of the county's first mass distribution site at Disneyland's Toy Story parking lot, Whites received 42 percent of the doses administered countywide to a paltry 11 percent for Latinos.

According to the latest statistics available, those vaccine inequities have tightened up, but not by much. As of April 18, Whites have been vaccinated with at least one dose at twice the rate of Latinos.

Source: OC Health Care Agency

Whites make up 38.6 percent of OC's population to Latino's 35 percent, so vaccinations are definitely out of balance. But the raw numbers don't tell the whole story.

Even though universal eligibility opened up to all Californians on Apr. 15, four working class Latino zip codes especially hard-hit by coronavirus in OC have had open access to appointments since Mar. 26 in an effort to close the gap and further reopen the state's economy.

In downtown Anaheim, the numbers tell an interesting tale. Latinos 65 and older actually outpace Whites in vaccinations in the same age bracket by a margin of 64.5 percent to 52.3 percent. But the numbers skew towards Whites when considering those between 16 and 64 years of age. In that category, Whites comprise 51.6 percent of those who've had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine compared to just 13.9 percent of Latinos.

Taken all together, the head start hasn't mattered much for equity's sake as 51. 7 percent of Whites in downtown Anaheim have gotten the jab and only 18.6 percent of Latinos can say the same.

In central Santa Ana, the longtime epicenter of the pandemic in OC, the numbers trend much the same. Latino viejitos outpace elder Whites in vaccinations but despite the jump on universal eligibility, younger Latinos are dramatically behind their White counterparts.

Of course, there's a gigantic population difference between the two demographics in both cities.

Quick aside: the best vaccination rate for younger Latinos resides in a Newport Beach zip code where all 36 of them actually outpace gabachos by about four percent!

Source: OC Health Care Agency

The priority zip codes do provide an important microscope into OC's vaccine disparities.

Even though Whites and Latinos almost have an equal share of OC's population, that's not true when considering age. Whites account for 60.4 percent of the county's seniors that are 65 and older while Latino viejitos are just 15.4 percent of that same bracket. So while older gabachos have a 33.4 percent vaccination rate, vaccinated Latino viejitos, at 10.3 percent, are actually more commensurate with their share of the demographic--a true testament to the mobile vaccine efforts of Latino Health Access and its partners.

That begs the question not asked by local media. What accounts for the gabacho geriatric gap?

A recent nationwide poll found that 49 percent of Republican men said they wouldn't take the vaccine when eligible. Is that dynamic effecting OC, the land, as the Gipper once said, where "good Republicans go to die?" The answer remains to be found by a deeper dig into the data.

Out in Yorba Linda, where Trump voters are whitey and mighty, vaccinated elder gabachos hover above 60 percent. But a geographic trend is readily visible along OC's coastline. Those numbers in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and San Clemente sag under 50 percent--and best believe access ain't an issue. Pockets of elder gabacho hesitancy are also pronounced in more ethnically diverse North OC cities, like Buena Park and Fullerton.

The county has two issues at hand. As many more young Latinos are now eligible to get vaccinated, it has to up its outreach to them if equity is to remain anything but elusive.

And maybe someone like OC supervisor Don Wagner (or even Dana Rohrabacher dragged from Maine) needs to ramp up public service announcements to help better those sagging geriatric gabacho numbers, too. But no, Wagner's virtue signaling to vaccine passport conspiracy theorists through press releases, instead!

- Gabriel San Román

Correction: Wagner got the Johnson & Johnson shot in April 3 according to his social media posts on Facebook and Twitter.

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Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina

Mouse Muckraker

Jonathan VanBoskerck, a Disney super fan, is facing a shitstorm of criticism for his recent Orlando Sentinel column bemoaning Walt Disney World for its wokeness. His gripes in the viral piece range from new gender inclusive uniforms for cast members to the Jungle Cruise revamps.

Here's a key quote from the self-proclaimed Christian and conservative Republican.

"Disney is in the process of taking the woke scalpel to the Jungle Cruise. Trader Sam is out because he might offend certain people. Every grown-up in the room realizes that Trader Sam is not a representation of reality and is meant as a funny and silly caricature. It is no more based in racism than every Disney caricature of an out-of-touch white American dad."

His experience--surprise, surprise--is the polar opposite of mine.

I stopped going to Disneyland altogether sometime in my teenage years. I didn't return to the Happiest Place on Earth until I was 35--and oh, how differently the Magic Kingdom appeared to me as an adult!

Here's how it all happened.

On a whim, my girlfriend and I ditched a Johnny Mathis Christmas concert (don't ask) one year and ended up at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar (itself an homage to colonial cultural appropriation) at the Disneyland Hotel. I don't know if I was being groomed, but drinks led to Southern California Resident Tickets which led to annual passes--and a very happy kiddo!

To be sure, my return to Disneyland in 2017 summoned some childhood nostalgia. I rekindled my adoration of the Haunted Mansion and rode Space Mountain too soon after breakfast.

But hoping aboard the Jungle Cruise floored me. Of course, I rolled my eyes at the racist depictions of Indigenous peoples throughout the Adventureland attraction. At the end of the ride, the skipper introduced Trader Sam, an animatronic African headhunter.

"That's Trader Sam?" I gasped.

Ain't nothing magical about racism. If Disneyland is supposed to be the immersive retreat from reality that VanBoskerck writes that it is, there's plenty of intrusions (and omissions) of the bigotry that's as all-American as Main Street, U.S.A.

Splash Mountain's happy tune, "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" is a derivative of the racist Dixie ditty "Zip Coon." Frontierland is an homage to Manifest Destiny and red-faced Indians are tucked into a quick corner of Peter Pan's Flight. The list goes on and on, although there's surprisingly not much in the way of greaser gags or wetback hounds!

Unlike VanBoskerck, I welcome all the changes coming to Disney's theme parks, especially the swapping of Splash Mountain's Song of the South theming in favor of the Princess and the Frog. Walt Disney opened his famous amusement park in Anaheim just 30 years after the Klan briefly took over the town--and just a few months before the last Mexican school was integrated.

The times change and amusement is being re-imagined from its harmful past.

Aunt Jemima's Pancake House turned into the River Belle Terrace decades ago. Mickey-shaped pancakes aren't less magical because they're no longer served by a mammy!

Relics of racism have no place on the carousel of social progress if there's truly to be a "great, big beautiful tomorrow."

Naranja Notes

Last week, I had the pleasure of being in conversation with OC author and activist Andrew Tonkovich as part of UC Irvine's Illuminations series. Hopefully, I'll be able to share the recording of our Zoom plática soon but in the meantime, buy a copy of Tonkovich's latest book Keeping Tahoe Blue and Other Provocations from LibroMobile, wontcha?

Also, you're favorite Slingshot newsletter turned a year old on April 19. Say "Feliz Birthday" and help keep the truth flingin' by donating at any level. Gracias!

Lead photo: a vaccine clinic takes place at a Santa Ana school site/ Courtesy SAUSD

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