We know the most important thing we can do to defeat this pandemic, to get our economy moving again, and to get people back to their lives, is to get everyone vaccinated, as soon as possible.
The vaccines are safe, effective, and they’ll save lives. However, we are seeing concerning disparities in vaccine access in many underserved communities; we cannot be complacent in our vaccination efforts. We need to ensure that we are getting more vaccines to the people and places that are most at risk, and that’s what the American Rescue plan is doing.
We worked to secure funding in that bill for FEMA’s mass vaccination clinics, like the one at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, as well as funding for the Defense Production Act, to give the administration the funding and tools it needs to support vaccine manufacturers as they ramp up production.
We also secured $160 million for community health centers across Ohio, whose work is critical in getting vaccines to underserved communities.
We also need sustained, effective outreach from leaders who are trusted in the community.
People need to hear about how safe and effective the vaccines are from people they know and trust – their pastor, their doctor, leaders at their schools and in their neighborhoods.
The pandemic has been a great revealer, and a great accelerator of the racial disparities in health care that Ohioans have lived with for years.
Communities of color have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. Black and brown Ohioans have been more likely to get sick and more likely to die from COVID-19, and they’ve taken the biggest financial hit.
In the coming days, I’ll also be reintroducing my resolution declaring racism a public health crisis.
The CDC also just acknowledged that racism is a serious public health threat. Black Ohioans have been leading on this issue, and we are going to continue to listen to and lift up their voices.
I will continue to support measures that ensure all Ohioans have easy and accessible access the vaccine so we can defeat this virus.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.