After Mississippi failed to provide COVID-19 vaccine access in an equitable manner, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal administrative complaint describing how the failure violated civil rights law.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Mississippi and other public and private organizations in the state received $15.7 billion in pandemic financial assistance. Despite receiving billions of dollars, the state failed to develop a plan to distribute vaccines equitably, which has resulted in disproportionate rates of sickness, hospitalization and death, according to the complaint filed with the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services. It notes that the state has seen “devastating impacts by race, ethnicity, and national origin, especially in low-income communities.”
Mississippi’s failure violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the complaint. The state largely ignored requests by the NAACP throughout the pandemic that it strengthen its civil rights and health equity efforts. By September 2021, Mississippi had the highest death rate from COVID-19 in the country and one of the highest in the world.