Wu wants vaccine sites in every zip code

An ordinance put forward by At-large City Councillor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu last week would require that city health officials open at least one Covid-19 vaccination site in every zip code in Boston.

The proposal comes amid growing criticism of a state-run program to distribute the vaccine from other elected officials, including US Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Wu introduced her proposal during a virtual meeting of the City Council on Wednesday.

“Even as distribution across the Commonwealth has gotten off to a rocky start, eligible Black and Latinx residents of Boston have faced even higher barriers to receiving the vaccine, including longer distances to distribution sites and hours of operation that are  incompatible with non-traditional work schedules,” Wu said.

The councillor cited a recent Boston Globe analysis, which found that fewer than 14 percent of Black residents and approximately 26 percent of Latinx residents of Suffolk County live in census tracts within a mile of a vaccination site, compared to nearly 46 percent of white residents.

“The evidence is clear: Boston’s communities of color are most at-risk for Covid-19.  Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and East Boston shouldn’t be vaccine deserts. They should be prioritized in our vaccine rollout,” said Wu, adding:

“The city must leverage its immense healthcare resources to make it easier for residents to sign up for vaccine appointments, with hours and locations that are accessible for working families. Boston residents shouldn’t have to spend hours on the phone trying to track down life-saving information.” 

Council President Kim Janey referred Wu’s proposal to the council’s committee on Government Relations for a hearing. 

District 4 Councillor Andrea Campbell, who is also running for mayor, joined with District 5 Councillor Ricardo Arroyo last week to schedule a Feb. 9 hearing that Arroyo said would “discuss strategies that will ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is equitably distributed, especially to communities who are hardest hit.”

The hearing will be held online at 1 p.m. at boston.gov/city-council-tv. Members of the public who wish to testify can email shane.pac@boston.gov.