ASM Joins with Groups Calling for Equity in Vaccine Distribution
ASM joined nearly 80 public health and research organizations in sending the following letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Becerra and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Walensky urging HHS to ensure funding provided in the American Rescue Plan goes to underserved communities, communities of color and those hardest hit by the pandemic. Specifically, the letter calls for the Administration to target supplemental funding provided to CDC for vaccines, testing, contact tracing and mitigation to these populations to ensure equity in response.
Dear Secretary Becerra and Director Walensky:
On behalf of the undersigned groups, we write to urge you to ensure funding for COVID-19 public health response activities provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L.117-2) prioritizes the communities of color and tribal communities that are disproportionately affected and underserved.
The disparities in burden of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death are troubling and insufficient demographic data masks the full extent of these disparities. Compounding these inequities is the historical and current lack of resources directed to the communities and neighborhoods that have been hardest hit. For example, in the demographic data available on COVID-19 vaccination thus far, we have seen lower rates of vaccination for Black and Latino populations than for white populations despite similar levels of interest in seeking the vaccine across demographics. These troubling data indicate barriers to services that must be addressed through dedicated funding for communities that lack the infrastructure and resources to achieve an equitable response to the pandemic.
We urge the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure a significant portion of funding through the following sections of the American Rescue Plan Act is directed to specialized efforts by local, state, tribal and territorial public health agencies encouraged to work in partnership with and provide resources to community-based organizations that build trust, ensure access and provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services. Such targeted funding is necessary to promote equity among population groups that are bearing such a heavy burden of COVID-19 illness and death:
- Sec. 2301: Funding for COVID-19 Vaccine Activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Sec. 2401: Funding for COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing and Mitigation Activities.
We applaud the recent funding opportunity announcements that allocate targeted funding for these purposes, including the Office of Minority Health’s Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19, the allocation of vaccination funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the CDC National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved Communities, including racial and ethnic minority populations, immigrants and rural communities. We encourage HHS to build upon these investments with continued focus on the people hardest hit by the pandemic.