CA Senator Josh Becker Urges the State to Immediately Expand Vaccine Eligibility to All Residents in Hardest Hit Communities

For Immediate Release

East Palo Alto continues to lag behind in vaccine access

MENLO PARK – State Senator Josh Becker called on the state to immediately expand vaccine eligibility to all residents in vulnerable communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Data from four Bay Area counties compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle shows East Palo Alto, one of the communities hit hardest during the pandemic, is the city with the lowest vaccination rate at just 24 percent. Meanwhile, 5 miles up the road, Atherton boasted the highest vaccination rate at 75 percent despite only 33 percent of its population being priority eligible.

“Communities like East Palo Alto are home to large numbers of essential frontline workers who have heroically stepped up and supported all of us through the entire pandemic but remain largely unvaccinated.

“I urge the state to immediately expand vaccine eligibility to all residents of East Palo Alto, North Fair Oaks, Belle Haven, and other communities that have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic. For example, if you are 16 or older and live in East Palo Alto you would be eligible. This would simplify access in these communities and cause more to come forward and be vaccinated.

“Right now, there are often two steps to get an appointment. One to get a wristband that involves an ‘Attestation Form’ to declare you are eligible. Firstly, roles like construction worker, housekeeper, and gardener are not listed. Secondly, many in East Palo Alto may, for example, take care of kids but may not be a licensed childcare provider. These people are not coming in if they think they may not be eligible because they don’t want to take someone else’s spot.  Finally, this change will make it easier for families that live together to get vaccinated.  

“I applaud Governor Newsom’s announcement expanding vaccine eligibility to those 50+ on April 1 and those 16+ on April 15 and committing to non-traditional outreach in hard-to-reach communities. I also thank San Mateo County for shifting resources to target communities in need. But we must hold ourselves accountable and do even more to accelerate vaccine access to those who have been historically left behind and make sure they are not once again pushed to the back of the line.

“Dr. Deborah Birx just said that after 100,000 the “vast majority” of deaths were preventable if Trump had acted differently. Well, we are still paying for Trump’s mistake and people are still dying in these communities.

“I can’t wait as my neighbors who have been historically left behind are sitting in these hard hit communities and not getting vaccinated. The stakes are so high. We are talking about life or death.”

Expanded eligibility coupled with a commitment to non-traditional outreach efforts in hard-to-reach communities will help lower the rate of community infection, hospitalization, and death. It will also help reduce new variants that might emerge.

Californians who don’t have online access can call 1-833-422-4255 and speak to a My Turn agent who can help. Anyone struggling to make an appointment can also contact Senator Becker’s District Office for direction at 650-212-3313.

Senator Becker is available for interviews today.


Media Contact: Bryan King, 209-678-8460,