1) Racine Interfaith Coalition observed from documents and first-hand testimony that the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccinations was not equitable toward our inner-city minority neighborhoods. This applied to both African American and Latinx communities. Racine is about 45% people of color.
2) We wrote a letter to the County Health Department expressing our concerns with the evidence we had seen of this inequity. They responded but in a manner that was less than concerned and seemingly not believing there was a good answer to our issues, but almost inviting us to suggest something better.
3) We decided to do just that and asked if they would meet with and accept suggestions from an advisory committee comprised of impacted persons. Even before we received an answer, we started to connect with other groups in Racine that could suggest persons for the committee such as the African American Round Table, NAACP, LULAC etc. One of our members remained on the committee, but otherwise it was made up entirely of people of color. Some were fairly well known in their communities and would therefore be trusted by their communities. We had equal numbers of African Americans and Latinx members.
4) We were therefore prepared when we got a tentative acceptance from the County and could move right into setting a date for the first joint meeting.
5) We did encourage our Advisory Committee to meet alone first to set their agenda and discuss their responses and plan who would lead the group and who would take notes.
6) They have now met several times and while not perfect, there have been improvements such as a community vaccination site opening on a bus line and the bus company announcing that anyone who says they are going to get a vaccination will ride free in both directions. They continue to meet.
Tamerin Hayward, co-president
Racine Interfaith Coalition