Charity to raise $15 million for vaccine equity

Seattle firefighters are on a different kind of lifesaving mission. They conduct mobile vaccine clinics at neighborhood group homes. It’s one of the ways the city is working to see that older people and people of color get the coronavirus shot.

So far, state figures show African Americans make up 2.1% of those currently eligible for the vaccine and are 2.7% of those who have received the vaccine.

Rev. Walter Kendricks, the African American minister of the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Spokane, said, “Our history is we’re somewhat leery of the health care apparatus in this nation, but we have to get this vaccine.”

And while 3.6% of Latinos are currently eligible, they’ve received only 2.5% of the doses.

“We’ve significantly ramped up the allocation — about 20% of the entire state allocation is now going to community and immigrant health care providers. That’s gone up significantly in the last couple of weeks,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

Today, the All In WashingtonCOVID-19 relief campaign launched what it calls the Vaccine Equity Initiative. Its goal is to raise $15 million to help community organizations reach communities of color.

But isn’t this a core function of state and local government? Why should philanthropy be necessary?

King County Executive Dow Constantine responded, “The reason that philanthropy is needed is because, fundamentally, public health is underfunded, and they are stretched mighty thin right now. And the reason that public health and many other public works are underfunded is because the state has an anachronistic and unfair tax system that is not well-tailored to the modern economy.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan added, “We won’t get through this if we’re not all in it together. We need business, government philanthropy, community-based organizations — all of us getting through this.”