Vaccine Equity in Maryland
I am writing to urge you to address the pressing matter of equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Failure to ensure better access to vaccines here will have long-lasting, far-reaching impacts on the health, well-being and survival of residents of this County and its neighbors in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Prince George’s County has endured more cases and loss of life due to COVID-19 than the District of Columbia or any county in Maryland or Virginia, with over 72,000 cases and 1,300 deaths. The casualties have disproportionately affected its Black and Latinx residents and essential workers. Given the devastating impact of the virus in Prince George’s County, I expected vaccine deployment to prioritize the County and its most affected neighborhoods. But the County has ranked last in vaccination rates since deployment began. According to the Maryland Department of Health, as of Feb. 23, only 6.2% of County residents have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, less than half the state vaccination rate of 12.6%, and less than one-third the rate of some counties (e.g., Kent, 21.8%). Prince George’s isn’t just lagging behind smaller counties. Montgomery County, with the largest population of any county in Maryland, has a 12% vaccination rate. Incredibly, a higher percentage of Marylanders have received a second vaccine dose (6.4%) than have been given a first dose in Prince George’s County. If the disparities persist, COVID-19 will continue to circulate in Prince George’s County long after other areas have begun to contain the virus, perpetuating its already disproportionate suffering from COVID-19 illness and death. Others will see a “return to normal,” while its schools still struggle to safely conduct in-person classes and businesses stay at reduced hours/capacity. There is a moral imperative to ensure that no county is left behind. There is also a practical imperative. The virus has no regard for territorial boundaries. For as long as any Greater Washington area community lacks vaccine access, neighboring communities in Maryland, Virginia and our Nation’s capital will continue to face the existential threat posed by COVID-19. I urge you to take swift action to avoid these harms: 1. Prioritize Prince George’s County Residents at the Six Flags Mass Vaccine Site 2. Prioritize Counties with Low Vaccination Rates at Every Mass Vaccine Site (every county should be close to the state average) 3. Allocate More Doses to Prince George’s County (doses must correlate to each county’s population) 4. Prioritize Zip Codes with the Highest Rates of COVID-19 Cases at all Sites 5. Expand Call Centers (to enable those with digital access issues to get appointments) 6. Deploy Mobile Vaccine Sites to Zip Codes with the Highest Case Rate (to eliminate barriers and quickly distribute doses) 7. Allocate More Funds to Vaccine Deployment in Prince George’s County Thank you.
First sent on February 28 by Erin
Print me and put me up around campus or on your community bulletin board!