Civil rights leader: vaccine distribution can be a big moment to address ‘systemic disparities’

  • WCAX3 | by: Peter Zampa |
  • 09/07/2020 12:00 AM
Civil rights leader: vaccine distribution can be a big moment to address ‘systemic disparities’
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn says it is common sense to vaccinate the most vulnerable first.

“We would of course consider prioritizing those who are most at risk in addition to frontline health care workers, food workers, and others around the country,” said Hahn.

Former FDA official Peter Pitts says this kind of distribution is unprecedented in the U.S.

“We haven’t really reached a crisis where we need to vaccinate the whole population at the same time,” said Pitts.


Pitts says a number of organizational issues need to be ironed out, like cold storage as the states prepare to unfurl their distribution plans. He also says specifically who makes the decisions on distribution is a thorny question.

“That process needs to be entirely transparent,” said Pitts. “We don’t want somebody tucked away in some office in Washington making these life and death decisions.”

He says income levels and those with better access to health care should be disregarded as distribution begins.

Pitts says leaders are going to have to reassure people this process did not involve corner-cutting and that there were no political machinations in the development process. He says some communities of color have developed a mistrust of vaccines after historically being mistreated in these processes.

“Those have to be addressed honestly and with respect. We have to explain to them what’s going on and get them on board because there’s no value in having a vaccine if people don’t use it,” said Pitts.

Commissioner Hahn says whichever vaccine they approve will be safe and effective.

 
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