Opinion | Determining Who Gets the Vaccine

Readers discuss equity issues in U.S. eligibility and the decision to send some of the U.S. stockpile to other countries.

To the Editor:

Re “U.S. Rushes to Expand Covid Vaccine Eligibility in a ‘Race Against Time’” (nytimes.com, March 19):

It is encouraging to read that many states are expanding eligibility for Covid-19 vaccine access. While opening vaccine availability to more people is promising, we strongly recommend that states actively ensure that people with disabilities and chronic conditions and other underserved populations are not left behind as eligibility expands.

Nationwide, significant equity gaps persist in vaccine distribution. Vaccine sites are often not easily accessible to people of color because of location or other factors, and obtaining appointments is often tied to technology access.

The ZIP code you live in should not determine your ability to access health care. Far too often, discriminators like race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, location, transportation, income and insurance status divide our communities into the haves and have-nots. During a pandemic, those gaps can be deadly.

I urge governors and states to prioritize equitably when expanding vaccine access to all, including through innovative outreach programs, like mobile clinics, community outreach, and assistance with finding and making appointments, to help more people get vaccinated.

Covid-19 may not have created health inequities, but it is absolutely shining a bright light on the challenges facing people of color in our health care system.

Randall L. Rutta
The writer is chief executive of the National Health Council, a nonprofit organization.

To the Editor:

Re “An Embarrassment of Vaccine Riches,” by Zeynep Tufekci (Op-Ed, March 18) and “U.S. to Ship Doses South of Border in Strategic Step” (front page, March 19):

Ms. Tufekci makes a compelling case for distributing to the world some of our stockpile of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the optics, as well as the reality, of sending into the world a vaccine that is not yet deemed safe for American consumption.

While it does appear that the blood clot issue is a red herring, distributing a vaccine, the use of which the F.D.A. has not yet approved, to other countries sounds suspiciously callous.

We should wait for F.D.A. approval and then consider sharing any surplus.

Deborah Landes
Bradenton, Fla.

To the Editor:

While I admire Zeynep Tufekci’s concern for the rest of planet Earth, I also believe that Americans in need of the vaccine (who want it) should be vaccinated with those in the U.S. stockpile before the rest of the world.

I live in California. I’m just short of 65 years old, with pre-existing conditions that, should I be infected with the coronavirus, will greatly impede my chances of survival. After spending countless hours to get an appointment for the first dose, I managed to obtain one, although the location is over two hours away. If one peruses the vaccine sites for Los Angeles, the vast majority of them have no vaccines available at this time.

Jon Ezrine
Los Angeles

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