California and Texas, the country’s two most populous states, have taken radically different approaches to the pandemic and the vaccination campaign to end it.
California has trumpeted its reliance on science and policies it says are aimed at improving social equity.
Texas state officials have emphasized individual rights and protecting the economy, often ignoring public health warnings but encouraging vaccination — while calling it a personal choice.
Yet California’s commitment to equity doesn’t appear to have put the state ahead of Texas in vaccinating Latinos, who make up roughly 40% of the population in both states. Latinos have suffered disproportionately from covid because the poorest tend to live in crowded housing, get less quality health care and have been more likely to work outside the home.
In California, 22% of Hispanics had been vaccinated as of April 12; in Texas, 21%.
Texas, in general, has done much better than California at reaching highly vulnerable groups during the first months of vaccine distribution, according to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas was seventh on the list; California was fifth from last.
Overall, however, California’s pandemic metrics have been better. As it opened vaccine eligibility to all ages on April 15, 49% of Californians 16 and older were either partially or fully vaccinated, compared with 43% of Texans.
The two states were neck and neck until a harsh winter storm in February knocked out power for a week in much of Texas. “We never really recovered after that, and exactly why, beyond our size, is not entirely clear,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.