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New bill focuses on vaccine equity as lawmakers are dissatisfied with disparities

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Chris Lisinski

Dissatisfied with the state’s vaccine rollout, a group of lawmakers filed a bill Thursday that would require the Baker administration to expand vaccination access and testing in areas of the state hit hardest by the pandemic.

The legislation (SD 699) unveiled by Sen. Becca Rausch of Needham, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Boston, Rep. Liz Miranda of Boston and Rep. Mindy Domb of Amherst, all Democrats, aims to address significant disparities in vaccination rates in communities of color and to improve access among a rocky rollout effort.

“There is no just and equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic without prioritizing the communities who remain most vulnerable due to historic pre-existing inequities that exist across our safety net,” Miranda said in a statement. “This legislation aims to bridge the gap between our traditional systems of care and grassroots partners on the ground.”

Sponsors cited six major requirements the administration must accomplish under the bill: appointing a COVID-19 vaccination equity and outreach director, running outreach campaigns with local organizations, creating a mobile vaccination program in communities with the highest positive test rates for the virus, appointing an expert on vaccine disinformation to the Vaccine Advisory Group, expanding the state-run Stop the Spread free testing program to all gateway cities, and making more detailed vaccine and equity plans public.

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