The White House COVID-19 task force is pushing for more equity in vaccine distribution.
Starting this week, it's sending doses directly to federally funded community health centers that mostly serve people at or below the poverty line.
That's supplementing what state and local jurisdictions are already doing to reach underserved communities, but there's still the problem of supply and signing up.
“But what didn't happen is really adequate resources to state and local health departments to actually ramp up the system to make sure that the vaccines got into the arms of the people in their communities and that those systems are ramping up and getting better,” said Dr. Julie Morita, Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “And I think the initial focus on really getting the vaccines into arms and doing it as quickly as possible led to some systems that aren't necessarily meant to be easily accessible by all.”
Some states have been plagued by long vaccination lines, broken sign-up systems or software that's just too difficult for many to figure out.
Morita says even more needs to be done to make vaccines more accessible.
“So, making sure that vaccines are located in clinics that are easily accessible and you don't have to have a car, making sure that people can make appointments without having to have high speed internet access and multiple devices,” said Morita. “Making sure that the clinics are actually scheduled before work hours or after work hours or on weekends, so that accommodates those people who may not have sick leave or paid time off and they can take to actually get their vaccines.”
Right now, it's really not even clear how equal or not equal vaccine distribution has been. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the agency has only gathered race and ethnicity statistics for about half of vaccine recipients.