Vaccine equity coalition wants more thorough reporting

State House News Srvice
Published: 7/28/2021 1:21:37 PM

Public health experts, civil rights advocates and elected officials urged the Baker administration Wednesday to resume reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations broken down by demographics, warning that the data remains an urgent part of the state’s response as the Delta variant fuels an increase in cases.

Leaders of the Vaccine Equity Now! Coalition wrote to the Department of Public Health flagging lower vaccination rates among Black and Latino residents and demanding the administration walk back a decision to halt the release of hospitalization rates among different demographic categories.

Without that “essential” information, they said, state officials will be unable to meet a legislative mandate in the new state budget requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to establish an equitable vaccine distribution plan for hard-hit communities by July 30.

“Demographic data on COVID-19 hospitalization rates is essential for measuring the disparate impact the pandemic has had on BIPOC and immigrant communities and for crafting a targeted vaccination strategy that centers equity,” the coalition’s co-chairs said in a statement alongside their letter.

“Especially as the more contagious Delta variant is rising in prominence and pushing case numbers up again, it is alarming that the Baker administration has suddenly stopped reporting this data and not provided a thorough, public explanation for the decision or outlined a strategy to begin reporting the data again.”

The administration stopped publishing hospitalization data by factors such as race, ethnicity, age and gender on July 1, though it continues to make data available by demographics for tests, cases and deaths.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, state Sens. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Becca Rausch and state Rep. Mindy Domb joined the coalition in demanding Gov. Charlie Baker “reverse course.”

“That which gets measured gets done, and scaling back the collection and publication of demographic data on COVID hospitalizations, while variants spread, will only hurt our efforts to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on Black and brown communities and target resources to the communities most impacted,” Pressley said in a statement.


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