March 12, 2021

Duckworth, Booker Request Guidance from Biden-Harris Health Equity Task Force on Addressing Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Rates


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today urged Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to provide guidance and recommendations to states, localities, territories and tribes on how to address disparities and reduce inequities in COVID-19 vaccination rates. Specifically, the Senators asked the Task Force to engage communities of color, people with disabilities and other disproportionately impacted groups and, when providing guidance and recommendations, consider a wide-ranging list of questions that will help Americans obtain information and get vaccinated in an equitable and timely manner.

In part, Duckworth and wrote: “The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on millions of individuals and families across the country, but it has highlighted longstanding disparities in our healthcare and economic systems.”

The Senators continued: “There have … been several barriers to getting the vaccine for many Americans at the State, local, territorial, Tribal and vaccination site level, which are contributing to these disparities… It is important to note that systemic and structural racism have created, and continue to exacerbate, these and other challenges.”

U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) joined Duckworth and Booker in sending this letter.

In February, Duckworth hosted a virtual roundtable with Illinois healthcare organizations and providers to address and mitigate hesitancy among those eligible for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, especially among healthcare workers. That same day, Duckworth also hosted another virtual roundtable with Metro East leaders to discuss the disproportionate public health impact of COVID-10 on Black and Brown communities and the need to mitigate vaccine hesitancy.

A full copy of the letter is available here.