MPHA and our partners in the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition are working to gather 10,000 signatures in 10 days on a petition to Governor Baker, calling for equity in the state’s vaccine rollout. Add your name today!
Members of the coalition include: the ACLU of Massachusetts, Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, Immigrant’s Assistance Center, King Boston, La Colaborativa, Lawyers for Civil Rights, MIRA: Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, NAACP – New England Area Conference, Union of Minority Neighborhoods, and Southeast Asian Coalition.
Why is a Focus on Equity Needed?
The COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts and across the nation has been characterized by dramatic racial inequities. Across the board, Black and Latinx communities have borne a disproportionate burden — from infections to hospitalizations and deaths. Structural racism is at the heart of these inequities. Black and Latinx residents are more likely to have frontline jobs that cannot be performed from home, to live in more densely populated communities, and to rely on public transportation – all factors impacting the likelihood of exposure to the virus. Structural racism also affects existing health status, through factors like exposure to air pollution, access to healthy food, housing stability and access to quality health care.
With vaccines now available, there is a real opportunity to bring an end to this pandemic by protecting the communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the state’s rollout has so far lacked a strong equity focus, and White residents have received the vast majority of the state’s available vaccine doses.
In response, MPHA has joined with civil-rights, racial justice and immigrant justice organizations to form the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition. In February 2021, the coalition released a set of five demands to Governor Baker, including:
- Direct $10 million to trusted community organizations for outreach & engagement in hard-hit communities of color,
- Immediately implement the promise 20% additional vaccine doses for the most impacted communities,
- Set clear goals & track vaccine benchmarks that mirror the disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx residents,
- improve language access & cultural competence across vaccine outreach, and
- Appoint a Vaccine Czar with authority & accountability to address vaccine inequities.
We know that historical and ongoing systemic racism is at the heart of many barriers to equitable vaccination – whether that be based on the location of vaccination sites or so-called “vaccine hesitancy” born out of earned distrust in health care or government.
It is critical that the Baker administration take action now to engage well-known community organizations and leaders in a comprehensive campaign to build trust with community members. The state is already desperately late in taking such action and must act quickly to address these urgent issues of communication and engagement.