How did Vermont's unique vaccine rollout impact communities of color?

Updated: Aug 10

by Maleeha Syed, Burlington Free Press, April 7th, 2021.

Sen. Kesha Ram (D-Chittenden), one of the signatories, has been trying to talk with the Department of Health "since before there was a vaccine rollout," she said in an interview conducted before Vermont opened up registration to all communities of color. She noted some were asking questions immediately in anticipation of the work that needed to be done to engage with New Americans and communities of color born here.

"What I have heard from a lot of Black Vermonters, who have sort of generational issues in this country with inaccess to health care, is that it felt like there was a tremendous effort for those with language barriers and those who had other barriers due to culture and national origin," she said, adding that Black Vermonters experienced problems and confusion.

The senator said it felt like the Department of Health was reluctant to roll the vaccine out to those who fall outside of New American communities. She understood surges in these communities specifically can be chaotic and expensive, but felt the prevalence of COVID among Black Vermonters was enough to merit a high-risk category.

"While we might not be able to change course in the rollout in a material way in the next month," she said, "we should look back and see if we created more mistrust in access to health care and our medical system through this process."

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