A #California program intended to improve #COVID_19 #vaccine availability to people in hard-hit communities of color is being misused by outsiders who are grabbing appointments reserved for residents of underserved Black and Latino areas.

Those codes have been circulating in group texts and messages among the wealthier, work-from-home set in Los Angeles, The Times has learned.

Many of those people are not yet eligible for the vaccine under state rules.

State officials have been contacted by over 2,000 community groups interested in participating in the program, according to Cal OES spokesperson Brian Ferguson.

Problems with the program emerged early last week, shortly after the codes became available.

It’s unclear how the codes got into the hands of outsiders, but the situation has forced the state to scramble to protect the integrity of an equity program that Gov. Gavin Newsom and other officials have been hailing.

New maps of #LosAngeles County show inequalities in #COVID_19 cases and disparities in vaccination rates.

Officials say the disparities are due to long-standing issues with healthcare access, education and poverty.

A person who had an access code told The Times several of the person’s friends who were otherwise ineligible were able to make vaccine appointments at the Cal State L.A. site using the code.

By Monday evening, the codes had spread so quickly through certain social networks that one woman in her 40s who lives near downtown Los Angeles told The Times that she had been sent three codes from different people over the last few days.

Read the full investigation about the misuse of the vaccine access codes from @sherlyholmes⁩ at latimes.com/california/sto…

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