U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is slamming the unequal distribution of coronavirus vaccines in communities of color as “vaccine redlining.”

Pressley said she “saw this vaccine redlining” early on in communities already disproportionately hurt by the pandemic.

“Despite the fact that the Black community and other communities of color have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, we weren’t seeing access to the vaccine keeping pace with that,” Pressley said. “I want everyone to have access to the vaccine to have that peace of mind to slow the spread of this disease and to save lives — especially while we’re in the midst of another surge and new variants are emerging.”

Pressley applied the term for the racially discriminatory lending process to disparities in vaccine distribution during a Children’s Services of Roxbury’s “ROXTalks” virtual session on Tuesday.

Black people account for less than 3% of those who have received at least one vaccine dose in Massachusetts, while Hispanics were at 3.3%, according to a weekly state Department of Public Health report from last Thursday.

“When it comes to the vaccine and access … this is a vaccine redlining,” Pressley said.

Pressley also called it “unacceptable” for the Bay State to be lagging behind so many others in distribution, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

“We should be leading. We are a health care mecca, we are a pace-setter for the nation,” Pressley said. “So for us to be lagging behind is unacceptable.”

As Massachusetts prioritizes distribution to mass vaccination sites and pharmacies, Pressley called for vaccination sites in every community health center and “certainly in every zip code.”

The Democratic congresswoman sent a letter to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker last week urging him to step up distribution in hot spots — often lower-income communities of color — by working with local health centers on access and awareness campaigns.

As she works to combat historic health and socioeconomic inequities laid bare by the pandemic, Pressley on Tuesday reiterated her calls for $2,000 recurring monthly payments from the federal government.

“The projections of those on the brink of eviction are very high in my district,” Pressley said. “I don’t call them stimulus checks at this point, they’re not stimulating the economy, these are survival checks.”

And she spoke of other initiatives aimed at closing the racial wealth gap, including canceling student loan debt and her “baby bonds” bill with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. The legislation would give every American child a seed savings account with $1,000 that would grow until that child turns 18, at which point they could put the upwards of $30,000 in funds toward approved uses such as homeownership or higher education.


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