We are two months into the vaccine rollout, and it’s become increasingly apparent that multiple states have struggled with an equitable distribution of the vaccine. In an effort to address these shortcomings, the state of Washington has announced a new plan intended on getting vaccines into the communities that need them most.
ABC News reports that the All in WA Vaccine Equity Initiative is a plan crafted by local and state officials as a result of a report showing just how inequitable vaccinations have been. Non-Hispanic whites make up 67.6 percent of the state’s population and 65.8 percent of them have been vaccinated. By contrast, a report from the state’s department of health has shown that Black people make up almost 4 percent of the state’s population but less than 3 percent of Black people in the state have received the vaccine. Hispanic people have only received 4.7 percent of the vaccines, despite representing 13.7 percent of the state’s population.
“The Vaccine Equity Initiative will deploy resources quickly to communities most impacted. Many of our partners are already engaging in outreach and education efforts to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” an All in WA spokesperson told ABC News.
The plan seeks to raise $30 million between private and public funds to ensure that these underrepresented communities receive the vaccine in a timely manner. While federal funding probably won’t arrive until June, charitable contributions will be able to be distributed much faster. Organizations such as the Starbucks’ foundation and Premera Blue Cross have already expressed support for the initiative.
This is cool, but you know what would be cooler though? If they just thought about these communities off jump. It’s nice that they’re moving in the right direction to solve this issue, but this really shouldn’t have been an issue considering that we’re dealing with a public health crisis, and it’s not like Black and brown communities only recently came into existence.
The initiative will use the funds raised to ensure that these communities are given culturally appropriate educational materials about the virus and vaccine, setting up pop-up vaccination sites, and providing transportation to vaccinations sites for those who need it.
“Vaccine access is critical to making sure our state recovers from this crisis,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said during a meeting announcing the plan. “The All In WA Vaccine Equity Initiative ensures that our hardest-hit communities have the information and resources they need to get vaccinated.”
The initiative will also work with churches and community centers to assist with registering people for the vaccine, and ensuring that a lack of access to the internet, or a language barrier doesn’t prevent someone from receiving the vaccine.