Fighting to Eliminate Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccinations and Ensure Vaccine Equity.

LDF sent letters to the governors of eight states and mayors of two cities calling on them to take immediate steps to eliminate the stark racial disparities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. Since COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color, it is critical that states ensure vaccine equity through prioritization of those most vulnerable to COVID-19 protects and benefits everyone.

While actively monitoring vaccine distribution strategies across the county, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund is focused on eight states and two cities with alarming and dangerous racial disparities in vaccinations: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, New York City, and Washington D.C.

Check out our blog series, Fair Shot, that analyzes the vaccine rollout in different states and the impact on Black communities.

Black communities, in particular, have been ravaged by COVID-19, dying at nearly twice the rate of white people nationwide. Black and Latinx individuals often hold frontline essential and service industry jobs, which prevent them from working from home, and disproportionately experience social and healthcare inequities, all of which contribute to increased risk of COVID-19 exposure. As of May 6, 2021, more than 149 million people nationally have received at least one vaccine dose, however, racial and ethnic data is available for only approximately 55% of recipients. Of those, only 8.8% doses thus far have been administered to Black people and 12.6% to Latinx people. In contrast, 63.2% of vaccines have been administered to white people, nationally. Similarly, at the local level, communities of color have received significantly fewer vaccinations than their racial group’s respective COVID-19 case, hospitalization, or death rates, as well as their share of the total local population.

Barriers to vaccine access, such as vaccine deserts, lack of digital access, and inattention to unhoused and incarcerated communities, unduly burden communities of color and limit their ability to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. The letters urge each Governor or Mayor to act immediately to protect communities of color and ensure vaccine equity. Among others, LDF’s recommendations include:

  • Prioritize the establishment and expansion of vaccination sites in underserved communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and those located in vaccine deserts.
  • Create easily accessible public education campaigns and collaborate with trusted community-based organizations, religious institutions, stakeholders, leaders, and activists before, during, and after implementing all efforts to combat vaccine inequity.
  • Take action to guard against vaccine tourism.
  • Eliminate additional barriers to vaccine access.
  • Implement outreach methods from prior successful public education campaigns, such as the use of mobile sign-up units that travel to residencies and frequent high-traffic locations in under-served communities.
  • Streamline the registration process by placing details about vaccine appointment availability on a single website and permit all vaccine sign-up and registration, waiting in line, and distribution processes to be completed in-person and by telephone, as well as online and via SMS messaging.
  • Prioritize the unhoused and incarcerated populations in vaccination plans given their greater susceptibility to infection within congregate settings.
  • Provide targeted information to unhoused and incarcerated populations about vaccine eligibility, safety, efficacy, distribution, and lack of cost
  • Employ mobile vaccination clinics to reach unhoused communities and individuals.
  • Require ongoing, rigorous collection and publication of vaccine administration data at the county, city, and state level, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, English proficiency, geographic location, and other relevant demographics.

Read the letters LDF sent to Governors and Mayors:

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Andrew Cuomo and  Mayor Bill de Blasio. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Mayor Muriel Bowser. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Kay Ivey. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Ron Desantis. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Brian Kemp. Read here.

Delivered on May 10 2021 to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor J.B. Pritzker. Read here. 

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor John Bel Edwards. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Larry Hogan. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Tate Reeves. Read here.

Delivered on May 11 2021 to Governor Henry McMaster. Read here.