Lawmakers Call for HHS to
Collect and Publish Demographic Data of Vaccine Recipients, Prioritize
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senators
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the Department to
work with the relevant federal agencies to monitor and address racial, ethnic
and other demographic disparities in our national COVID-19 vaccination
deployment strategy, and ensure equitable vaccine access for Black, Latinx,
Indigenous, and immigrant communities.
“Free and equitable access to vaccines is essential to
saving lives and slowing the spread of the coronavirus,” the lawmakers wrote
in their letter to Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran IV. “The recent
distribution of approved vaccines is a sign of hope that much needed recovery
from this pandemic is near. However, it is critical that the federal
government’s vaccine deployment campaign does not fail the communities that
have been forced to shoulder the greatest burden.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, Black, Latinx, Indigenous and immigrant communities have
experienced a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and these
communities continue to be at increased risk of hospitalization, face greater
barriers to testing, and in many areas, make up the majority of frontline
workers who are at risk for increased exposure to the virus. Despite the clear
vulnerability of people of color in this public health emergency, comprehensive
data on the racial, ethnic, and other demographic characteristics of people who
have been treated or vaccinated for COVID-19 does not exist. This lack of
information will exacerbate existing health disparities and result in the loss
of lives in our most vulnerable communities.
that policymakers can effectively combat these health disparities and direct
resources to the communities hardest hit, the lawmakers asked HHS to work with
states, localities, and private labs to collect and publish demographic data of
vaccine recipients—in a way that protects personal identifiable information
from law enforcement agencies—and work with tribal governments and urban Indian
health programs to avoid any shortages of vaccine doses. The lawmakers also
urged the CDC to improve the collection and public reporting of racial, ethnic,
and other demographic data for COVID-19 cases and build out reporting to ensure
that our most vulnerable communities are not left behind in our national
“Without robust demographic data, policymakers and
researchers cannot fully address the disparate impact COVID-19 continues to
have on communities of color or address vaccine hesitancy among communities
that have had their trust broken by the medical system,” the lawmakers
continued. “As you take the helm of HHS amidst continued COVID-19 surges
across the country and a slow vaccination rollout, we urge you not to delay
collecting this vital information, and to take any additional necessary steps
to ensure that all Americans have the access they need to COVID-19 treatment
onset of the pandemic, the lawmakers have led efforts in Congress to ensure an
equitable response to the pandemic that addresses existing racial disparities
in the United States.
week, Rep. Pressley wrote
to Governor Baker urging him to step up vaccination efforts in Black
and Brown communities amid troubling reports of growing racial disparities
in vaccination and vaccine access across the state.
April 2020, Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren, along with Sen. Markey, led
their colleagues in introducing the Equitable
Data Collection and Disclosure on COVID-19 Act, legislation to require
the federal government to collect and publicly release racial and other
demographic data on COVID-19. The bill also would establish an
inter-agency commission to make recommendations in real time on improving
data collection and transparency and responding equitably to this crisis.
Aspects of the legislation were included
in an COVID-19 relief package signed into law later that month.
April 2020, Rep. Pressley urged Governor Baker to rescind
the Commonwealth’s proposed Crisis of Care Standards that would have
disproportionately harmed Black and Brown communities and the disability
March, Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren urged HHS
to collect racial and ethnic demographic data on testing and treatment for
COVID-19 to identify and address racial disparities.
Pressley, Sen. Markey, and Sen. Warren also sent
a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
calling on the agency to immediately release racial and ethnic data of
Medicare beneficiaries who are tested or hospitalized for COVID-19.
Pressley and Senator Warren has also written to
the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking for HHS's report
on the administration's efforts to address racial disparities in health
care access and outcomes, as required by the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (ACA).
the request of Congresswoman Pressley and
Senator Warren, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to investigate how COVID-19 relief funds
have been distributed to disproportionately affected communities.