Seattle Children’s Hospital canceled 1,300 Covid-19 vaccine appointments out of concern over equal access to sign up.
“Shortly after releasing appointments, we decided we needed broader communication to the greater public of available vaccine appointments as we want to achieve the widest reach possible,” the hospital said Thursday in a statement sent to CNN.
People hoping to be vaccinated signed up Tuesday through MyChart, an online account used by people with an existing patient relationship to the hospital. But some health care providers in Washington state have come under criticism in recent weeks for first notifying vaccine availability to people who have prior history with the facility.
Demand for vaccines has exceeded the supply in most states, and officials say the already limited distribution is not making its way proportionally to Black and Latino communities. As calls for increased production and administration grow, some organizations are also working to make sure doses are made more equally available.
Gov. Jay Inslee reiterated during a Thursday press briefing that health care providers must not give preference to people in soliciting vaccine appointments.
“It’s just wrong to offer special privilege in this regard,” said Inslee. “Everyone deserves fair access to this vaccine.”
Seattle Children’s notified people affected by the cancellations and will offer future appointments through its public website.
Several states are grappling with the issue of equity in vaccine distribution.
In Mississippi, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Thursday that barriers existed for some residents.
“We find that barriers exist, similar to our pre-existing disparity barriers that have been around for decades, and they’re not going to be any different for coronavirus vaccination than they are for access to healthcare for any other reason,” he said.
Black Americans make up 37% of the state’s population, but only account for 19% of those who have received the vaccine.
“That’s an enormous issue,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs noted that the drive-thru sites have helped almost 40% of people over the age of 75 and almost 30% of people over the age of 65 receive their first dose in Mississippi.
“Those numbers are going to really pay major dividends going into the future, not only in mortality, but in hospitalization,” he said. “But if we don’t also have a parallel focus on addressing health disparities, we won’t really get to the health gains that we’re hoping to make.”