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Local Congressman Requests Equitable Distribution Of COVID-19 Vaccine When It Becomes Available

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Pharmaceutical companies are being asked to make a plan for equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, when one is ready.

Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in the U.S., which reflects inequities in access to healthcare. Individuals in those communities are also more likely to work in frontline, essential jobs, thereby increasing their risk of exposure.

At a recent House oversight committee hearing, Congressman Raul Ruiz, who is a physician, requested that drug executives whose companies are developing vaccines also propose a distribution plan.

Ruiz said that a vaccine should first go to the medically vulnerable, frontline healthcare workers, and those communities with the highest transmission and fatality rates, “and not [to] who can pay for it, and giving it to the rich and powerful, or to Fortune 500 companies who want to inoculate in order to keep their employees coming to work and make a profit.”

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The congressman, who represents the Palm Desert area, says the distribution of coronavirus tests and personal protective equipment has gone to the highest bidder rather than in accordance with public health needs, and it’s a pattern he does not want to see repeated with a vaccine.