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Medical Professionals, Activists Push Baker To Prioritize Vaccine Access For Minority Communities

Three nearly empty bottles of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine which can not be mixed to provide an addition dose for a vaccination shot. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Three nearly empty bottles of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine which can not be mixed to provide an addition dose for a vaccination shot. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is being urged by a coalition of community activists and medical professionals to give the state’s Black and immigrant communities priority access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“Our Black and Latino neighbors have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, and we have failed to implement sufficient measures to protect them,” said a letter signed by more than 250 people and delivered to Baker on Monday, The Boston Globe reported. “We cannot afford to neglect our hotspot communities during the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Health care workers, nursing home residents and first responders are among those who are currently eligible to be vaccinated under phase one of the state’s inoculation plan and the general public is not expected to have vaccine access until April.

The Republican governor has already pledged to set aside 20% of the state’s vaccine supply for cities and towns with high infection rates, and acknowledged the pandemic’s impact on those communities.

“Black and brown communities have borne the brunt of this virus,” Baker said Monday. “Our administration’s response to the pandemic has been constantly mindful of this reality.”

But the letter’s authors said the state has not identified a program for actually administering those vaccines to the hotspots.

The letter was provided by the Chelsea Collaborative, or La Colaborativa, a nonprofit that has been leading the humanitarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the city across the river from Boston that was hit hard early during the pandemic. The letter was also signed by doctors from Mass General Brigham hospitals.

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