Communities of color continue fighting for equity in vaccine distribution

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to pull back vaccine doses from hospitals and community health centers - and divert them to mass vaccination sites - is getting its share of criticism.

State Rep. Russell Holmes and Attorney General Maura Healey are among those calling for the focus to remain on communities of color.

“It’s hard. I’ve been kicked off the website trying to get appointments. And I don’t have transportation so it’s hard to get to Fenway and Gillette and those places,” said Anna Jones.

Jones was relieved to get her COVID-19 vaccine at the Russell Auditorium in Dorchester Tuesday.

The senior tells me it should be easier to get vaccines in her neighborhood or even a doctor’s office where she doesn’t have to wait in long lines or use a computer to get an appointment.

”I mean, I love the Patriots but I don’t even go out there to see them!” Jones said.

Holmes and Healey visited the Russell Auditorium vaccination site and clinic at the Morning Star Baptist Church Tuesday.

They emphasized the importance of keeping vaccine administration in the communities that need them the most.

Last week, the Baker administration announced the state would divert doses to mass vaccination sites and away from hospitals and Community Health Centers.

“When I show up and I see a line that has 85, 95% people of color that is exactly what I expect of a neighborhood that is 90% of color. Versus, if I were to go to a mass vaccination site, I would see the opposite. I would probably see in the neighborhood of 80% of those people being white and then you continue to have this disparity of who’s being vaccinated and who’s not,” said Holmes.

The Baker administration has promised to reserve roughly 20% of the state’s vaccines for communities of color but there has been little evidence to suggest that promise has been kept.

According to the state’s weekly COVID-19 vaccine report, nearly 600,000 white people have received at least one dose, compared to just over 45,000 Black people and 37,000 Latinx.

Healey says daily reporting is necessary.

“Forty percent of coronavirus was in Black and Latino populations and as of last week, they were only getting 14% of the shots. Good moves have been made by the state to focus more on equity, but we gotta do that and do that every day and I think the accountability comes through reporting” said Healey.

Rep. Holmes tells Boston 25 the Baker administration met with the Black and Latino Caucus Monday where officials agreed to include ethnicity data in daily vaccine reports and bi-monthly meetings with the caucus to track equity issues.

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