Seattle City Council pledged to improve justice in introducing the COVID-19 vaccine in the city. The non-binding decision was passed unanimously on Tuesday.
The resolution is in response to new data showing that black, Hispanic, and multiracial Washingtoners are vaccinated depending on the population and the number of cases.
It was also found that the vaccine was given preferential treatment to people with social relationships, with three Puget Sound providers providing special access to donors, board members and volunteers.
The council said Washington’s current strategies are not working to benefit other vulnerable populations such as immigrants, refugees, vulnerable people, people living in public housing and multi-generation houses.
Council members pledged to make vaccinations as easy as possible by removing the language, transportation, disability and digital literacy barriers that keep people from getting appointments.
Washington’s previous attempts to address inequality, such as providing vaccines to a range of organizations and geographic locations, have not filled certain loopholes. The council’s response is to focus on vulnerable residents while “shifting and prioritizing resources and power” and “not just paying lip service to justice,” said Council Chair M. Lorena González.
The vaccine, currently open to those aged 65 and over, is generally in short supply. Washington has dispensed approximately 1.06 million doses and missed its daily target for vaccinations week in and week out.
State data from the Department of Health (DOH) shows that providers have given white residents a disproportionate proportion of their doses.
According to a February 10 report, about 67% of Washingtoners vaccinated with at least one dose were white. Although white residents make up about 67% of Washington residents, they make up 48% of COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, less than 5% of those vaccinated were Hispanic, which is 32% of all cases. Black residents have received just over 2% of primary vaccinations and are 6% of cases.
The Council reiterated its commitment to the publication of data on race and ethnicity, which will be available on the DOH’s COVID-19 dashboard this week.
The resolution highlighted the importance of culturally aligned campaigns to combat the reluctance and suspicion of vaccines against communities affected by racism in health care.
The resolution also reaffirmed the obligation to vaccinate people living here illegally, which means that no documents should be requested from registration or from vaccination centers. The possible use of single-dose vaccines was discussed for people who may find it harder to get their second dose.
“We cannot and must not sacrifice fairness and justice in order to act quickly because that means that people will be left behind,” said González, especially our elders.