Senator Reverend Warnock Pushes for Equity in Vaccine Accessibility, Highlights Strong Role of Community, Faith Leaders in Rollout

Senator Warnock questioned public health and communications experts during a hearing on the disparities of vaccine distribution and accessibility
After helping successfully secure $5 billion in federal funding to support equitable vaccination distribution for Georgia, Senator Warnock aims to ensure each Georgian has access to the vaccine with help of communication from community leaders
Senator Warnock: “The problem I hear over and over again is not of vaccine hesitancy but of vaccine access”
Senator Warnock questions CEO Gordon Smith on the role community and faith leaders play in public trust of vaccine distribution


Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), a member of the Senate commerce and science committee, underscored the importance of incorporating trusted community leaders into the communications and outreach strategy regarding vaccinations and the equitable distribution of shots. Senator Warnock highlighted the country’s unequal distribution of vaccine information in Black and brown communities, as they represent the majority of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. In Georgia, only 22.5% of vaccine recipients are Black despite comprising 31.9% of the state population and representing a disproportionate number of Georgia’s COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.

Senator Warnock questioned hearing witnesses Gordon H. Smith, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Tracie Collins, Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health, and Yonaira Rivera, Assistant Professor of Communications at Rutgers University on how faith and community leaders play a key role in supporting equitable vaccine distribution by helping provide vital vaccine information to every corner of the state, especially to communities of color in rural and urban parts of Georgia.

“As I’ve talked to Georgians, especially from those in communities of color, they are excited to get a vaccine, especially if they’ve seen that their friends and neighbors are safe after receiving the vaccine. And they are saying that they want these shots in their arms”, said Senator Warnock during the hearing questioning. “The problem I hear over and over again, is not of vaccine hesitancy but of vaccine access. Could I have one of the panelists speak to the barriers? What barriers do people of color face in getting vaccinated? And what steps should Congress take to ensure these communities can access vaccines equitably?” 

Senator Warnock later asked the witnesses about the importance of coordinating with community, faith, and grassroot leaders to distribute accurate vaccine information quickly and build to public trust around the shots themselves: “What role do you think trusted partners play in this? There’s the issue of access and I’ve come from the faith community. And I know that churches, for example, have stepped up. My own church is a site for vaccinations. Do you see this as a critical part of our approach?”  

See full video of Senator Warnock’s questioning HERE.