State Must Provide More Vaccine Access
Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) commends the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ commitment to increase trust, vaccine acceptance and administration rates through the Vaccine Equity Initiative. LCR particularly applauds the state’s efforts to accelerate the vaccination of essential workers. However, troubling statistics reveal persistent racial inequities in the state’s current vaccination programs and the disproportionately low-rate at which Black, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, and immigrant communities are vaccinated. Moreover, LCR is deeply concerned with the access challenges posed to people living with disabilities, including those who are homebound or unable to travel to reach one of the state’s vaccination sites. Under federal law, the Commonwealth is required to ensure equitable access to vaccination sites for all Massachusetts residents, regardless of race, national origin, or ability.
LCR continues to hear alarming reports. For example, an 82-year-old woman living in Worcester was only able to get a vaccination appointment in Natick, over 35 miles away. Like many other elderly or mobility-limited individuals, this 82-year-old woman cannot travel long distances to access a vaccination site. She had to forego the appointment.
In light of these concerns, LCR has sent an open letter to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health with further urgent vaccine administration recommendations, including:
- Engineering partnerships between hospitals, health centers, and other healthcare providers and non-profit community-based and faith-based organizations to create local, community-focused vaccination sites;
- Deploying mobile vaccination units that can travel into the heart of local communities to provide vaccines directly to underserved populations and individuals with limited mobility; and
- Providing technical assistance, resources, and adequate supplies of first and second doses of vaccines to the healthcare providers and community-based organizations working in concert at community-based and mobile vaccination sites.
The Commonwealth must redouble its efforts to distribute the vaccine equitably: that is what fairness demands, what the law requires, and what the Commonwealth has promised to do, publicly and repeatedly. LCR stands ready to assist with these efforts and ensure that the state prioritizes the public health of everyone in our Commonwealth.LCR-Letter-March-25-2021