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Commentary April 8th, 2021
Health • Legitimacy • Delivery
Kevval Hanna Program Director, Inclusive Economies, North America
Naja Nelson Associate, North America
Dan Vogel Director, North America

Local leaders are essential to equitable vaccine distribution

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Read @KevvalH @Najaaaaaaaaaa @Dan_Vogel piece on @TRF_Stories discussing the importance of local leaders in equitable vaccine distribution

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"It is time for local govt leaders to rise to the challenges of this pandemic. They must lead with integrity, prioritize equity, draw from data & build trust with the community"

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Americans of all stripes have the most faith in local govt & leaders. @KevvalH @Najaaaaaaaaaa @Dan_Vogel think this is the foundation we must build to support vaccination & rebuild trust

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With the pandemic’s end in sight, Americans once again face the challenge of the unequal impact of COVID-19 on different communities. This time, inequities are manifesting in vaccine distribution. While 1 in 5 American adults received at least one vaccine dose, there is a large discrepancy in who is getting vaccinated. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in Delaware, only 8% of Black residents received vaccinations despite making up 24% of cases and 23% of deaths. Similar inequities exist among Latinx populations across the country. According to experts, this difference comes from both vaccine barriers and vaccine hesitancy in communities of color.

It isn’t a secret that many Americans lack trust in the federal government, but 2020 laid bare how many Americans lack trust in anything. On its own, this fact would be dangerous. But during a pandemic and with vaccines on the way, it requires immediate action. According to Dr. Fauci, one “cannot properly and successfully implement a public health program when you have so much disagreement in society.” Americans have an opportunity to turn the tide on the deadly COVID-19 pandemic as “highly efficacious vaccines” become available, but that depends on our ability to come together as a nation, to “think about our national life in terms of... ‘we’ and ‘us,’” to “amplify the voices of the marginalized and put their concerns squarely on the agenda for the future.” 

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The road ahead will be long and difficult. Vaccination rates will be the defining factor in the journey still to come for the U.S., beyond this pandemic and into recovery. We must use every tool and ally at our disposal. The funding provided by the American Rescue Plan is an important step in the right direction. Now, with the weight of this support backing them, it is time for local government leaders to once again rise to the challenges of this pandemic. They must lead with integrity, prioritize equity, draw from data, and build trust with the community. Through the actions of local governments, those closest to the communities, we will reach the other side of this crisis.

Read the full article on the Thomson Reuters Foundation News website here.

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Americans of all stripes have the most faith in local government and local leaders. This is the foundation we must build to support widespread vaccination and rebuild trust.

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Written by:

Kevval Hanna Program Director, Inclusive Economies, North America
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Naja Nelson Associate, North America
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Dan Vogel Director, North America
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