December 11, 2020

Duckworth Discusses Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in Virtual Roundtable with Black Community Leaders


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) held a virtual roundtable today with Chicago and Illinois leaders to discuss the disproportionate public health impact of COVID-19 on Black Americans. The group discussed plans to equitably distribute a safe vaccine to Black communities in Chicago and across Illinois, while also addressing medical racism, educational outreach and cultural sensitivity so these Illinoisans can feel reassured of the safety of the vaccination. In just the last month, the COVID-19 death rate among Black Chicagoans was the highest among the city’s four largest racial groups and nearly double that of white Chicagoans. Duckworth was joined by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Medical Director Dr. Candice Robinson, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, Rainbow PUSH Coalition Founder Rev. Jesse Jackson, Lawndale Christian Health Center CEO Bruce Miller, as well as members of the Illinois Congressional delegation, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL-01), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14). 

“I understand the hesitation from communities of color in trusting the safety of this vaccine and know that Black Americans have been failed in the past by the medical system,” Duckworth said. “Now that we’re on the verge of having a safe, effective vaccine for all Americans, we have to find a balance between acknowledging that history and doing the best thing for our communities, which means getting all Chicagoans – including Black Chicagoans – vaccinated in an equitable way. I’ll keep working with the City of Chicago and with local leaders across Illinois to make sure we can help protect our Black and Brown communities during the distribution of the vaccine and for the duration of this public health crisis.”

Duckworth has been working to ensure states and municipalities are prepared to distribute a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine, including calling for funding in any upcoming relief legislation to help with the swift distribution of the vaccine. Duckworth also called for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help provide more support to local – particularly rural and underserved – communities with the cold storage needed to store vaccine supplies.