Two highly effective coronavirus vaccines are now on the horizon, but the next challenge for federal, state and local leaders will be distributing a vaccine equitably so that communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic can have access.
UCHÉ BLACKSTOCK: We're very excited to have two promising vaccines on the horizon, and now the issue that we have to really be concerned about is how are these vaccines going to be distributed equitably? What we've seen in the pandemic is Black and Latinx communities being disproportionately impacted by coronavirus. The CDC has a Social Vulnerability Index, and there are task forces that have been using this index to determine which communities should receive the vaccine first. It uses geography, it uses housing, it uses racial and ethnic status as well as a host of other factors to help figure out which are the communities that need the vaccine most.
We're going to need a coordinated effort from the federal government, state and local governments, vaccine manufacturers, and even community-based organizations. A significant amount of federal funding has gone to vaccine research and development, and only a fraction has been given to the states for distribution, to get the vaccines to where they are needed the most.
ALBERT BOURLA: I think the vaccine will be available for free to all American citizens. We are giving it to the government at quite a low price, so I think every American will have access to it.
UCHÉ BLACKSTOCK: It's incredibly important that this vaccine not only be easily accessible, but also free to anyone and everyone, so that's an issue that we definitely have to push the Biden-Harris administration on. Obviously, one of the barriers to getting the vaccine depends on where the vaccine is being distributed, and if it's being distributed at hospitals, clinics, or urgent care centers, we know that they're less likely to be in under-served areas, and so that speaks to the point of being more intentional about ensuring that we have vaccine distribution sites that people can access easily, because if we don't, we're just going to reinforce the inequities that we've seen throughout this pandemic.