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During a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on vaccines for veterans, Senator Murray questioned Veterans Affairs (VA) health officials about how they are working to combat vaccine disinformation efforts and what VA is doing to address barriers to vaccine access for communities of color

Senator Murray: “I was really glad to hear that VA has been working with communities of color to answer any questions they have about vaccines, but even when those questions are answered there are still barriers to access…what is VA doing to build trust with these communities and address those barriers to access?”

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S QUESTIONS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Chair of the Senate health committee, asked health leaders at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for answers about how they plan to overcome challenges in COVID-19 vaccination efforts for Washington state veterans. During the Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, Senator Murray pressed VA officials on how they are working to promote vaccine confidence and combat the unintentional and intentional spread of inaccurate information among veterans, as well as how they are building trust with veterans of color and promoting vaccine equity. Senator Murray also committed to following up with questions about how VA is ensuring veterans in rural communities have access to vaccinations, and how VA is working with community partners, such as universities and community providers, to assist with vaccine distribution.

“As we know COVID-19 has had a disparate impact on communities of color. We know there’s been a history of racism and medical mistreatment of people of color in this country. And those inequities have made the COVID crisis even more damaging for communities of color and made it critical we do not let systemic racism block people of color from getting vaccinated,” Senator Murray said during the hearing. “I was really glad to hear that VA has been working with communities of color to answer any questions they have about vaccines, but even when those questions are answered there are still barriers to access. Often these facilities are not in the same communities, which may force veterans to take time off from work, or find child care, or find transportation to reach a VA facility where the vaccine is offered. What is VA doing to build trust with these communities and address those barriers to access?”

A daughter of a World War II veteran and the Chair of the Senate health committee, Senator Murray has consistently worked to improve health care access for veterans, including through her consistent oversight of VA MISSION Act implementation, and vaccination efforts in Washington state and across the country. Last year, she released a proposal detailing steps the federal government should take to make sure every person in this country can access safe, effective, and free vaccines in order to end this pandemic, as well as a report outlining recommendations to address systemic racism and inequality in the U.S. health care system, and called for months to provide more funding for vaccine efforts, and ultimately secured $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution and $19.695 billion for development and procurement of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and ancillary medical supplies in the COVID-19 package passed at the end of 2020. Throughout the pandemic, Senator Murray has also consistently pushed to address vaccine hesitancy and promote vaccine confidence.

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