Fact Check: Covid Vaccines May Be Bundled With Food Stamps And Rent Assistance In Black Communities

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Fact Check: Covid Vaccine May Be Bundled With Food Stamps And Rent Assistance In Black Communities. Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

FactCheck.org, one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media, has exposed false claims made on dubious websites and social media posts that wrongly accuse a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s covid-19 advisory team of wanting to mandate vaccines by tying them to food and rent assistance.

Biden announced on Nov. 9 that a team of more than a dozen public health and science experts was working to develop a plan to fight covid-19. One of the task force members is Dr. Luciana Borio, who worked at the Food & Drug Administration and the National Security Council during the Obama and Trump administrations. Borio is a vice president with In-Q-Tel strategic investment firm, according to Associated Press.

Borio was part of a working group of scholars and medical experts who wrote a report, published in July by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, titled “The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Planning Recommendations Informed by Design Thinking and the Social, Behavioral, and Communication Sciences.” 

Source: Facebook

One of the report’s recommendations is to make vaccinations available to vulnerable populations in safe, familiar, and convenient places.

African Americans have been disproportionately affected by covid-19. As of Nov. 12, 2020, around 20 percent of covid deaths in the U.S. have been among African Americans, according to Statista. African Americans represent 13.4 percent of the U.S. population.

Making vaccines widely available will “entail local and state health departments’ developing vaccination capacity, creating local adaptations to meet communities — and, particularly, vulnerable populations — where they are, and communicating timely information in clear and accessible ways,” the report says.

Neither Borio, nor the working group, recommended withholding food stamps or rent assistance to people who refuse a covid-19 vaccination, AP reported. Instead, the report recommends offering vaccines alongside other services.

“Immunization screenings and vaccine promotion are built into the WIC program. Bundling services (eg, food security, rent assistance, free clinic services) that are already being provided to particularly vulnerable populations in the context of covid (eg, older adults, low-income
adults, Black and minority communities) could be a way to build trust and streamline vaccine provision.”

“The Public’s Role in COVID-19 Vaccination: Planning Recommendations Informed by Design Thinking and the Social, Behavioral, and Communication Sciences,” a report published in July by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. 

The website Natural News falsely claimed, “Vax The Blacks: Joe Biden’s Covid-19 taskforce member recommends withholding food stamps and rent assistance from those who refuse coronavirus vaccines,” FactCheck.org reported.

Natural News was banned by Facebook earlier this year for using foreign trolls to spread its unreliable content.

The false vaccine story also appeared on an affiliated website called Distributed News claiming that Borio said “people who refuse to be vaccinated should be deprived of food stamps and rent assistance.”

That is false, according to FactCheck.org.

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