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

Mayor Eric Johnson is asking that Black and Hispanic residents be among the first to receive the vaccine, after essential workers and vulnerable people.
Credit: AP
Mayor Eric Johnson wears a mask as he stands near a podium during a news conference at City Hall where the latest developments were discussed amid the new coronavirus crisis in Dallas, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an effort to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine distribution to people of color.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will vote Tuesday on who gets the vaccine first.

In the letter, Johnson asked the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Chairman José Romero to allow Black and Hispanic to be among those given the vaccine first after essential workers and the most vulnerable. 

"Many of our essential workers are also people of color, which likely helps drive the higher infection rates among Black and Hispanic families," Johnson said. 

RELATED: Dallas food bank serves record 300,000 families during pandemic

The mayor said that more than half of the population in Dallas is Black or Hispanic, where many do not have access to quality health care or may have underlying health conditions. 

Johnson said although Dallas is not unique in the impacts COVID-19 has had on underserved communities, he asked that Romero listens to this local perspective when making federal vaccine guidelines. 

The FDA is expected to vote on emergency use for Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines by mid-December and the CDC says logistically they want to be ready.

RELATED: CDC panel meets to decide who is first priority for COVID-19 vaccine

"We originally thought we would wait until we had a vaccine in front of us to make this decision about who to prioritize," said Dr. Robert Atmar with Baylor College of Medicine, who is also on the CDC committee. 

In addition to asking that communities of color receive the vaccine first after essential workers, Johnson requested that the advisory committee explains more on potential side effects.

"Distrust in the process and in the vaccine could prolong this pandemic, causing harm to the health and welfare of more of our residents," the mayor said.

Read the mayor's entire letter below: