Rep. Karen Bass said Sunday that the coronavirus vaccine rollout is failing African Americans and systemic racism is playing a role in vaccine distribution.
“But you know when we say that doesn’t mean that people are deliberately withholding vaccines, the greatest problem is access,” Bass told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“There is vaccine hesitancy, but access I believe is the number one problem,” the California Democrat continued, acknowledging recent data that shows more than half of Black Americans remain hesitant to get the coronavirus vaccine.
A survey released earlier this month by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found that only 49% of Black adults plan to get the vaccine with 19% of those people saying they will get it right away and 31% preferring to wait.
Asked by Bash whether she agreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent remarks to Newsweek that the vaccine rollout is not failing African Americans, Bass said that was not the case.
“It is failing African Americans,” she said, noting that coronavirus vaccine registration is largely online, making it more difficult for minority communities to gain access.
Bass said these problems are also prevalent in the Los Angeles district she represents.
“People are having difficulties getting online and then individuals from other parts of the community who are White are coming into inner city areas they probably have never been in before seeking vaccines,” she said.
Bass suggested that moving beyond online registration could address some disparities.
“What I believe we need to do is we need to move and expand beyond online registration. There needs to be community registration. There needs to be mobile sites,” she said.
CNN’s Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.