COVID-19 Vaccine Access Must Be Equitable

Recommendations to the Illinois Department of Public Health

Racism is the major driver of inequities embedded in our health system. As the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines are administered across the country, it is essential we ensure equitable access for those who need it most. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately harmed communities of color in Illinois, particularly Black and Latino/a/x communities, and widened health disparities. Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is critical to ensure recovery and well-being for these populations.

At the same time, we know that our country‚Äôs history of structural racism and historical injustices in the healthcare system has caused Black Americans to distrust vaccines. We are also cognizant that asking for personal information from specific groups who are distrustful of the government (e.g., undocumented immigrants) could cause some people to be dissuaded from taking the vaccine. 

This week, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law sent leadership at the Illinois Department of Public Health recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine distributions.

Read our letter and full list of recommendations to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

We urge the Illinois Department of Public Health to take action to: 

  • Ensure that the state prioritize Black and Latino/a/x communities within the priority groups outlined in all phases of the state plan; 
  • Ensure low-wage essential workers and temporary workers, including domestic workers, be prioritized for vaccine receipt; 
  • Require employers to provide workers paid time off to obtain the vaccine and paid sick time in order to recuperate from vaccine side effects; 
  • Engage with criminal legal system stakeholders as soon as possible to ensure people who are incarcerated, and correctional staff receive a high priority for vaccines; 
  • Deploy a focused communication and outreach plan about access to a free vaccine. 

These critical steps must be taken immediately to ensure the well-being of our most vulnerable and at-risk populations. The Shriver Center stands ready to help our communities and our government in any way we can. 

Read our letter and full list of recommendations to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

More Information

We are intentional about addressing barriers to healthcare that specific communities experience.

Healthcare is a human right. The high cost of care means millions of families have no access to the critical care all human beings deserve.

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