Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Christine Grady, Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center—and one of our esteemed honorees at last year’s Helping Children Soar Benefit.

If you were unable to join, keep reading for some of the key takeaways and the full recording
Despite the fast timeline, the vaccines currently approved for emergency use have efficacy rates greater than 90% and pose no serious risks or side effects. The development and testing process was comprehensive and included several levels of review by various independent experts.

Important considerations in the trials, such as accurate representation across race, ethnicity, age and co-morbidity, further support the vaccines’ reliability, according to Dr. Grady.
Ethical considerations are embedded throughout the process of vaccine development, testing and distribution. At every step, national and local decision-makers involve bioethicists, like Dr. Grady and her colleagues.

Regarding vaccine distribution, Dr. Grady highlighted that several independent groups agreed we should prioritize health care providers and seniors -- especially those in nursing homes. They also agree that equity, fairness and transparency are values that should guide decision-making. Dr. Grady acknowledged that these discussions often do not include discussions of historic inequity or groups from specific communities.
Since the start of the vaccine distribution, low-income Black and Brown seniors in DC have faced barriers to accessing the vaccine. Many don’t have access to internet or social media and are unaware of how to register. Unreliable internet and sign-up times that conflict with working hours have made it hard to make appointments.

Unfortunately, lack of access to information, technological barriers and scheduling conflicts are not new for the families with whom Children’s Law Center works. They emerge time and time again as hurdles to accessing healthcare and legal representation. 
Children’s Law Center has been sharing resources to help remove some of these barriers to access. We have also joined others to ask DC Health to increase vaccination distribution in the communities that have been most affected – specifically Wards 5, 7 and 8.

As Children’s Law Center enters our 25th year, we will continue to fight to ensure that all DC children and their families have access to the resources they need to be safe, healthy and learning. Thank you for the support that makes this work possible.

With gratitude,
Judith Sandalow