Massachusetts organization fights for vaccine equity


(WWLP) – On Monday evening the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition hosted a virtual town hall to discuss the work involved in bringing communities access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The coalition is made up of over 30 organizations committed to bringing vaccine access. The campaign’s focus is on equal vaccine distribution to Black, Latinx and immigrant communities.

There were many participants and speakers during the event:

  • Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz
  • Representative Liz Miranda
  • Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone
  • Worcester City Councilor Dr. Sarai Rivera
  • Dr. Atyia Martin, Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition & Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chair
  • Carlene Pavlos, Massachusetts Public Health Assoication & Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chair
  • Eva Millona, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition & Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition Co-Chair
  • Gina Plata-Nino, Worcester Together Coalition
  • Renee Ledbetter, NAACP New Bedford

Dr. Sarai Rivera, a Worcester City Councilor, reflected on the state’ advancements in the medical field, and criticized the Commonwealth for struggling with such a long standing issue.

“We’re supposed to be number one in health for the nation, and we’re struggling the way we are. Now we know that historically, we all understand when we talk about the issue of equity. Many of us have been working in the health field know that the conversation of equity is not a new conversation,” Dr. Rivera said.

In February, the coalition gave five demands to Governor Charlie Baker to inure BIPOC communities had equal access to vaccines, given the pandemic’s disproportional impact on these groups.

Community leaders and activists deserve tremendous credit for the pressure they’ve applied to the Baker Administration – resulting in real progress in the form of funding to community organizations, mobile vaccination programs in some areas, and grassroots outreach campaigns finally getting going.

But it’s unacceptable that the Governor has continued to refuse basic requests for accountability and still can’t name how a successful, equitable rollout will be measured. Any business leader or skilled manager will tell you that you measure what you value. This undervaluing by delay and silence is exactly the kind of behavior that has built mistrust among marginalized communities for so long.

State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston)

For more information on the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative, click here. To watch a recording of Monday’s Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition’s virtual town hall, click here.

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