Cantwell Discusses Vaccine Distribution Challenges, Stresses Importance of Equitable Delivery to Hard-to-Serve Populations

Cantwell: “You have to have the infrastructure to deliver the vaccine”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, attended today’s Transportation and Safety Subcommittee hearing titled “The Logistics of Transporting a COVID-19 Vaccine” and spoke about the need to make sure our transportation infrastructure is up to the task of delivering COVID-19 vaccines safely and effectively around the country.

“We're really trying to pay attention to what we need to help people dealing with this unbelievable COVID pandemic that's increasing in impact right now at a very critical moment,” Cantwell said in her questioning with witnesses. “So I wanted to ask a question about what we're doing to help states and municipalities on the delivery system. I've heard from my mayors, I've heard from our health officials, you know, this is a very intense operation on the ground and they're going to need help and resources in the delivery system.”

Mr. Wesley Wheeler, President of Global Healthcare at UPS, responded to Cantwell’s concerns about states and municipalities having adequate support saying, “We [UPS] got pretty good at this with the test kits. So when we started testing and moving laboratory samples from patients to lab companies, we got very, very familiar with the state governments, the state jurisdictions, and the health authorities there. And we were helping a lot of the states to do that. And we still are. And that allows us to give you help wherever you need it.”

Cantwell also stressed the importance of ensuring rural and Native communities get equitable vaccine distribution: “I want to make sure that that we're thinking about how you give equitable access. I heard some of the discussion about nursing homes and definitely agree about that distribution, but I want to make sure that we're getting equitable distribution to very challenged and hard to serve communities. We obviously, in the State of Washington, have 29 Tribes in a big geographic area in delivering to Native Americans, and I'm sure I could give other examples.”

Video of Senator Cantwell at the hearing is available HERE, audio is HERE, and a transcript is available HERE.