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Austin Latino Coalition pushes for City to offer COVID-19 vaccine to low-income minorities first once available

Members of the ALC are on the City's COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition, which was created in October.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Latino Coalition is pushing for the City of Austin to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to low-income minorities first once it becomes available.

The coalition is on the City's COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition, and  Austin Public Health officials said they're taking feedback from partners. 

"We want to make sure that the ZIP codes and geographic locations where we already know where there's high number of cases and positivity rates, which are majority black and brown communities, that they too are among the first to get access to the COVID vaccine. There's an issue, obviously, concern about equity," said Paul Saldaña, the Austin Latino Coalition coordinator.

RELATED: Dallas mayor asks communities of color be prioritized in COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Every week, the Austin Latino Coalition keeps track of the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on the Latino community with national, state and local data.

"We're doing this on a volunteer basis, and we have been doing this since April," said Saldaña. 

Saldaña said the community has not only experienced the most COVID-19 deaths, but has struggled getting personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests. Saldaña said they're doing what they can to not experience the same inequalities once the vaccine is distributed.

The City's COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition meetings are the way Saldaña hopes to make that strong suggestion. Interim Austin Public Health Director Cassandra DeLeon said the coalition's taking input from partners. 

"Real intention here is how do we strategically use the vaccine to best help reduce lives that could be lost by COVID as it continues," asked DeLeon.

"We totally agree with the strategy, so far, in that the medical professionals, our public safety firefighters, police officers, the nurses, the teachers ... absolutely, they're front and center. But also because so many from our community are the frontline workers, as well, that they, too, have an opportunity to get access to it," said Saldaña.

Saldaña said since there's nothing in writing, the coalition has concerns, but they'll continue pushing back if they have to. 


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