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Mass. Coalition Demands More Equity In Vaccine Rollout, As Governor Announces Related Plan

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Baystate Medical Center.
Baystate Health
MassLive / MassLive.com
A COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Baystate Medical Center.

A coalition of health and community leaders wants Massachusetts to get more vaccines to people of color.

COVID-19 has affected Black and Hispanic residents disproportionately, but they've been vaccinated at a much lower rate than whites.

The coalition, Vaccine Equity Now, has given Governor Charlie Baker several demands, including $10 million for local organizations in communities of color, along with an extra 20% of vaccine doses and the appointment of a "vaccine czar."

State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz said there should've been a plan in place already to address vaccine equity.

"These are known problems," she said. "These are known facets of structural racism that we have seen coming for months, and have been talking to the administration about for months."

Chang-Diaz has filed a vaccine equity bill, which was co-sponsored by western Massachusetts state Senator Mindy Domb and other Democratic legislators.

The governor's office also just announced its plan to address vaccine equity, including targeted outreach to 20 hard-hit cities, such as Springfield and Holyoke.

The Baker administration's plan also promises more cultural and linguistic diversity in vaccine outreach, and $1 million for the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

The vaccine equity coalition said that's a good step, but they want a stronger, more specific plan.

Coalition members say more vaccines should be given at community health centers, where many people of color feel most comfortable, rather than at mass vaccination sites, which are harder to get to.

They also want better data on who is getting vaccinated so they can see whether Black and Hispanic communities are catching up. 

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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