AUSTIN, Texas - Local black leaders, Austin City Council member Natasha-Harper Madison, Manor Mayor Larry Wallace, Pflugerville council member Rudy Metayer, Representative Sheryl Cole, and Commissioner Jeff Travillion are all expressing concern over the vaccine rollout.
"We are acknowledging the disparate impact to communities of color and marginalized communities and having access to the vaccine as it rolls out in various stages," said Natasha-Harper Madison, Austin City Council.
They say the pandemic not only created a public health and economic crisis but also highlighted long-standing health disparities in communities of color. "The COVID-19 virus has really put a magnifying glass on disparities in the eastern crescent and other communities of color," said Harper-Madison.
News of the vaccine is receiving warm welcomes around the world, however, local leaders said as it phases in, certain communities in the region are not providing equal access to the life-saving vaccine.
"We are seeing a dearth of vaccination clinics on the eastern side of town, even in Pflugerville, where you have over 100,000 people living in this area, and we only have one clinic on this specific map and that happens to be an HEB," said Rudy Metayer, Pflugerville City Council.
The leaders say these distribution centers shouldn’t just be at clinics west of I-35. "These national strategies have no understanding or comprehension of what is on the ground at the local municipality level. We are not utilizing churches, we are not utilizing schools," said Dr. Larry Wallace, mayor of Manor.
"The St. John Regular Baptist Association has 155 churches within the region. We have to go to non-conventional means to address a population that has been pushed out of the mainstream, yet needs all the services the mainstream is providing through our tax dollars," said Commissioner Jeff Travillion, Travis County.
These leaders are hoping as more people get vaccinated, the groups hardest hit by the deadly virus, get the protection they need.