HIV doctor to lead vaccine equity efforts at CDC

Demetre Daskalakis, who previously oversaw disease control in New York City, will take on one of the most vexing challenges in the immunization campaign

A top HIV/AIDS doctor and gay activist has been named to a new position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overseeing vaccine equity efforts, according to a person familiar with the move and an internal memo, underscoring the agency’s efforts to address racial and other disparities threatening the nation’s immunization effort.

Demetre Daskalakis, who had been director of the CDC’s division on HIV/AIDS prevention, will become senior vaccine equity lead, according to the memo. Before joining the CDC last year, he was incident commander for covid-19 at New York City’s health department. In his new position, he will report directly to Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the CDC.

His responsibilities will include running outreach to states and other jurisdictions as they strive to close yawning racial gaps that have opened up in early immunization data, as well as coordinating with retail pharmacies and community health centers, which are cornerstones of the Biden administration’s efforts to bring shots to vulnerable communities buffeted most severely by the coronavirus.

The new position is a signal of the emphasis placed by the Biden administration on equity in its response to the pandemic.


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