Text of my letter to the CDC regarding vaccination priorities
On Monday, I sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Here is the full text of the letter.
Dear Chairman Romero:
I am reaching out to you on behalf of the nearly 1.4 million people who call the City of Dallas home. Like many other cities in the United States, the City of Dallas has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we continue to urge our residents to practice social distancing, to avoid crowds, to maintain good hygiene, and to wear masks, we are seeing a sharp increase in new cases and hospitalizations. Thankfully, with viable vaccines on the horizon, our residents are hopeful that an end to this pandemic is in sight.
It is my understanding that on December 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. I also understand you will discuss which populations should receive the first doses. It is my sincere hope that, after healthcare workers, first responders, and the most vulnerable, you will consider making it a priority to deliver the vaccine to minority populations that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
In Dallas, 66% of our population is Black or Hispanic. We are seeing higher rates of infection among these residents, and they represent an even greater percentage of the cases requiring hospitalization. They also make up a greater percentage of the deaths caused by the coronavirus. These disparities can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a lack of access to quality healthcare and a greater prevalence of high-risk health factors that causes the virus to impact these populations more severely than others. Many of our essential workers are also people of color, which likely helps drive the higher infection rates among Black and Hispanic families.
The City of Dallas is not unique in seeing these disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on lives and livelihoods in our underserved communities. I hope you will consider this local perspective and this request as you discuss what will become the federally recommended guidelines for the vaccine in the coming days.
I also implore you and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to provide detailed information on the potential side effects of the vaccine. Recent polls suggest more than half of Americans are worried about the potential side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine and do not plan to take it when it becomes available. Distrust in the process and in the vaccine could prolong this pandemic, causing harm to the health and welfare of more of our residents. It is critical that all those who are designated as eligible to receive the vaccine clearly understand the potential risks of taking it — as well as the risks of not taking it.
Thank you for your time and consideration. If I can provide any additional information to assist with your deliberations, please do not hesitate to reach out.