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Normalized racism: Ontario opens up vaccine eligibility to people as long as they aren't white

Hamilton, a Canadian port city on Lake Ontario, has responded to a jump in Covid-19 cases by making vaccines available to all adults in “hot spot” neighborhoods, but only to residents whose skin isn't white.

The city expanded vaccine eligibility to “black and other racialized” people aged 18 and older who live in five zip codes where the current outbreak is most acute. A special clinic set up to vaccinate only non-white residents filled its appointment book in just a few hours last week.

Hamilton officials cited the fact that 47% of the residents who have been infected with Covid-19 identify as “racialized,” although they make up only 19% of the city's population. Proponents of such policies prioritizing non-white people for vaccines have argued that “systemic conditions” have rendered them more vulnerable to Covid-19.

But some black observers said race-based prioritization is divisive and causes more distrust in the vaccines. One commenter said she “would never go near somewhere targeting only black people for vaccines.” Others noted that white people in the targeted neighborhoods live in the same socioeconomic conditions.

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