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.
The move comes amid a Covid-19 case surge so severe that Ontario Premier Doug Ford earlier this month set up checkpoints at the province’s borders with Manitoba and Quebec, and tightened already severe lockdown restrictions.
With the province unable to secure enough vaccine doses as new strains cause the virus to spread more quickly, Ford said “we’re losing the battle between the variants and the vaccines.”
But social media users argued that choosing who gets the vaccines based on skin color, without regard for such risk factors as age and pre-existing medical conditions, is racist. “Woke racism is a Canadian virtue – clearly illegal, but government-sanctioned and police-enforced,” one Twitter commenter said.
“Too bad I’m white and poor and in bad health, but whatever,” another observer said. “Give a 30-year-old, healthy black lawyer a vaccine just because he’s black.”