There should be a push to protect the Black population, which is disproportionately likely to be infected.
I am confident that scientists will produce safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19. I would be happy to be first in line when one becomes available. I am not in a high-risk group, however, and I expect to wait weeks or months for my turn.
Older adults and persons with certain pre-existing medical conditions should go first, according to public health experts. Persons in these groups are more likely to become severely ill from this virus. While I agree with this prioritization, there are other groups with compelling reasons to be first in line: racial and ethnic minorities.
Maine leads the nation in disparities between white and non-white populations. Black people, for example, are just 2 percent of the state’s population yet account for 24 percent of COVID-19 infections in Maine (according to the COVID Tracking Project’s Racial Data Tracker). As we grapple as a society with the harms of systemic racism, this disparity stands out. There is no denying the influence of racism in this pandemic.
Plans for distributing the vaccine are well underway. We can demonstrate our commitment to Black Lives Matter by making early shipments of the vaccine available in our racial and ethnic minority communities.