Coalition Calls On Governor Baker To Provide More Vaccine Doses To Hard-Hit Communities

WBZ-TV's Mike LaCrosse reports.

Video Transcript

- Well, David, not all cities and towns are going to have to give up access to their vaccines. The state wants to make sure that people in communities hit especially hard by the virus still have access to the shots, places like Lawrence. More than 17,000 Lawrence residents have tested positive. And the city still has a positive test rate of close to 10%. WBZ's Mike LaCrosse is live in Lawrence tonight, where, Mike, the vaccine is definitely going to make a big impact.

MIKE LACROSSE: That's right, Lisa. People here in Lawrence are happy that the state is providing the city with more resources. Community leaders keep pointing out that it's very difficult for some people to get to those mass vaccination sites.

- I think it's about time.

MIKE LACROSSE: People in Lawrence and Methuen are relieved the state is stepping up efforts to get vaccines into the communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

- Some of my friends, we've been waiting.

MIKE LACROSSE: The two communities are among a list of 20 cities and towns, including Boston, Worcester, and Fall River, that the Department of Public Health is targeting as part of its outreach initiative to increase equity in COVID-19 vaccine access and awareness.

- We will listen to each community regarding their needs and we will assist each city or town, building on existing efforts and strengthening vaccine awareness and administration plans currently in place.

- Those close to the disease should be close to the vaccine.

MIKE LACROSSE: Community leaders with the newly formed Vaccine Equity Now Coalition held a news conference today saying the state's new campaign doesn't go far enough to address racial inequalities. They're calling on Governor Charlie Baker to promise 20% more vaccine doses for the most impacted communities, an investment of $10 million in organizations to engage with communities of color, and the appointment of a vaccine czar.

- These recommendations were developed by a diverse coalition of Black, brown, and immigrant leaders.

MIKE LACROSSE: Attorney General Maura Healey agrees with the coalition that the Baker administration's initiative is just a start.

MAURA HEALEY: We need to be intentional. And equity should be something that's referenced every single day and should be accounted for in whatever the percentages are of the shots administered in the state.

MIKE LACROSSE: UMass Memorial Health Care CEO Dr. Eric Dickson says one of the ways to reach underserved communities is to go directly to them.

ERIC DICKSON: The key is really balance. And the key is to have a program that is equitable and efficient.

MIKE LACROSSE: And the Department of Public Health says it will be making information about the vaccine and the process available in multiple languages. Reporting live in Lawrence, I'm Mike LaCrosse, WBZ News.