Feb. 22, 2021 -- Despite freezing temperatures, Philadelphians lined up Friday and Saturday to get free coronavirus vaccinations at a 24-hour clinic put on by the Black Doctors COVID Consortium.
The event was designed to increase the number of vaccinations given to Black Philadelphians. Some people told TV station WPIV they waited in line nine hours outside Temple University’s Liacouras Center for the shot.
"The need is great. (The long line) is also a testament to the trust people have in us. If people are out here hours before we even start, it lets us know we're where we need to be," said Dr. Ala Stanford, a co-founder of the group that aims to reduce disease and death from COVID-19 among African Americans.
The shots were given to people 75 and older from any zip code, as well as to people who belong in the city vaccination program’s 1B category and also live in 20 zip codes hard hit by the pandemic.
The 1B category includes first responders, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, public transit and child-care workers, teachers, and people with high-risk medical conditions.
The Black Doctors COVID Consortium administered more than 4,000 doses from Friday afternoon to noon Saturday. People were able to pre-register or walk up and stand in line. The group, which is about a year old, also has mobile units to provide vaccination and testing.
The goal of the “vaxathon” was to reduce the vaccination disparity between white and Black Philadelphians.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Blacks make up about 40% of the city population but have only received about 20% of the more than 156,000 doses administered in the city. White people have gotten about 56% of the doses, the Inquirer said.
The same kind of disparity is found across the nation.
The CDC said that race was known for about half the people who’ve received the vaccine as of Feb. 19. Of that half, 63% of the people getting the vaccine were white, 9% Hispanic, 6% Black 5% Asian, 2% American Indian or Alaska Native, and less than 1% were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. About 14% said they were “multiple” or other race.
The coronavirus is deadlier for minority communities. A CDC analysis shows that Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans are dying from coronavirus at nearly three times the rate of White Americans.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday that minorities face a “double whammy” -- they have higher exposure because they often hold front-line and service jobs, and they’re also more likely to have underlying medical conditions such as heart disease.
Fauci said “vaccine hesitancy” among minorities is understandable because of past discriminatory practices. To overcome that, he said, health workers need to tell people, “I respect your concerns but these are the two or three reasons you need to get vaccinated.”
Though not mentioning the Philadelphia “vaxathon,” he said the government and other groups have “got to really extend ourselves into the community to get the access to minority populations.”