State coalition unveils Vaccine Equity Fund to level playing field

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The State of Washington’s latest data shows there are racial and ethnic inequities when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine especially among the Hispanic and Black communities.

But, the state has a new tool in its belt to tackle this problem; it’s called the Vaccine Equity Fund.

It’s an initiative started by ‘All In WA’ with the backing of community leaders, including Governor Inslee. The idea is to allocate funds and resources to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 to educate them on the vaccine and to make it more accessible.

Community leaders say there are several barriers in place which makes it difficult to inform people and get the vaccine to them, especially those that don’t live near the mass vaccination sites.

“Transportation, online access, language barriers and, frankly, addressing the fear that exists among communities because of either misinformation on social media or just lack of access to correct information,” said Jesus Hernandez, CEO of Family Health Centers.

Among those vaccinated right now, 65% are white people, who make up 2/3 of the state population. Hispanics make up less than 6% of those vaccinated, but are more than 13% of the population. Black people have only accounted for less than 3% of those vaccinated, but are almost 4% of the population.

Not only will the Vaccine Equity Fund work to get the vaccine to people, but also educate people who may not want it to get it.

“Our history is we’re somewhat leery of the healthcare apparatus in this nation, but we have to get this vaccine. So the Ministerial Fellowship of Spokane has been pushing this message,” said Pastor Walter J. Kendricks.

Officials say this is not a primary state funded project because of funding into the Department of Health. Instead, it will rely heavily on private organizations to work together to reach all parts of the state. Governor Inslee said Monday the state has significantly increased the allocation of vaccines to community and immigrant providers.

RELATED: White people receiving most of Washington’s vaccine doses, Hispanics disproportionately left behind

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