U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) is among 60 Members of Congress in calling on the Trump Administration to develop a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan that prioritizes health equity.
The lawmakers are urging Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary, to take a strategic, public health approach to vaccine distribution that prioritizes those at risk for transmission and dying of the disease. Those deemed most at-risk include essential workers, seniors, individuals with pre-existing conditions, and communities of color.
“It is critical that we prioritize vaccinating people who need it the most,” Ruiz and the other lawmakers wrote in a letter to Azar. “We cannot repeat the debacle we continue to have with the distribution of tests, where even now, health care providers who are risking their lives to take care of COVID-19 patients are not tested, but low-risk non-essential workers, like professional athletes, are. Where low-risk residents in affluent communities can get tests just because they came back from vacation, but higher-risk farmworkers who are working to maintain our food supply chain cannot.”
The legislators asked Azar to respond to the questions, including what the principles are that will guide your prioritization of vaccine distribution; what factors are being taken into account in the formulation of the vaccine distribution plan; what data sources are being used, and which experts you are consulting; how the amount, timeline, and location of distribution will reflect these priorities; what your timeline is to solidify a plan, and will that plan be made public or available to Congress; and how you will make the amount, timeline, and location of vaccine distribution transparent to the public.