A trio of Democratic lawmakers is urging the US Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to address the racial disparities in Covid-19 vaccinations and collect the demographic data of people receiving the shot to ensure vulnerable communities are not left behind.
In a letter addressed to HHS acting Secretary Norris Cochran, the lawmakers said comprehensive data on the race and ethnicity of the people who have been vaccinated does not exist despite people of color dying and being hospitalized at disproportionate rates.
“This lack of information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss of lives in our most vulnerable communities,” reads the letter, signed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, all of whom are from Massachusetts.
CNN has reached out to the HHS for comment, but has not heard back.
The letter comes two days after CNN released the findings of its analysis of 14 states that showed vaccine coverage is twice as high among White people on average than it is among Black and Latino people.
The analysis found that on average, more than 4% of the White population has received a Covid-19 vaccine, about 2.3 times higher than the Black population (1.9% covered) and 2.6 times higher than the Hispanic population (1.8% covered).
The remaining US states have yet to provide racial data on who has received the vaccine.
Black and Latino Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of White people and being hospitalized at a rate four times higher, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Still, early data shows that Black and Latino people are not receiving the Covid-19 vaccine in proportion to their share of the population or their share of Covid-19 cases, the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
Pressley, Warren and Markey note that people of color make up the majority of frontline workers and face increased risk for exposure to the virus.
The lawmakers said robust data collection will allow them to not only address vaccine hesitancy and distrust in communities of color but help to rectify “centuries of medical neglect and dehumanization experienced by people of color.”
“In order to reach community immunity in the United States and save lives, the concerns and experiences of low-income communities and communities of color must be prioritized,” the letter says. “We urge HHS to partner with Community Health Centers, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, and trusted community partners to disseminate accurate information about vaccine efficacy and accessibility to combat vaccine hesitancy and disinformation.”