Washington announces Vaccine Equity Initiative
State leaders announced on Monday the All in WA Vaccine Equity Initiative – a campaign that aims to support equitable vaccine access across Washington.
The new initiative is looking to raise $30 million in combined private and public funds to help vaccinate underserved communities. Most federal funds will not be available until June, but All in WA says the initiative already has support from philanthropic partners including The Starbucks Foundation and Premera Blue Cross.
All in WA’s website states that the initiative will support equitable access by:
“Streamlining and targeting funds to trusted, community-based organizations that can conduct linguistically and culturally-specific vaccine education and outreach, as well as address access, mobility and transportation barriers.”
The announcement comes after the Washington State Department of Health released new COVID-19 vaccination data last week, highlighting inequities by race and ethnicity. The report finds that Hispanic, Black, and multi-racial individuals are underrepresented in terms of shots received compared to their representation in the general population.
Hispanic individuals account for 13.2% of the population in Washington, but account for just 4.7% of those who have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Among those fully vaccinated, 5.9% are Hispanic.
Black individuals, who account for 3.9% of Washington’s population, make up just 2.2% of those to have received at least one dose and 2.7% of those who are fully vaccinated.
The report finds that Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native individuals make up a slightly larger share of those vaccinated compared to their representation.
The report also notes, however, that as of February 6, 11.3% of people who had received at least one shot and 9.9% of those who are fully vaccinated had unknown race/ethnicity. This incomplete data can make it difficult to compare race/ethnicity distribution.
Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah says equitable vaccine distribution has been a focus for DOH, but this data shows that more needs to be done.
“These data are crucial to understanding how we must balance the need to vaccinate as many Washingtonians as quickly as possible while also promoting equity in the process. While we have been focusing on both throughout, we must all do more to address these COVID-19 vaccine inequities and related access barriers.”
DOH also says the vaccination data based on race, age, and ethnicity will be incorporated into the department’s COVID-19 data dashboard and will be updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
As of Thursday, Washington State has administered over 1.2 million doses. Approximately 12% of the population has received at least one shot and 4.3% of the population has received both doses.