As Philly reopens, some zip codes still lag behind in immunization rates
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health recently announced on Friday, June 11 that it will be lifting the last of its indoor mask terms.
It is now optional in most places to wear your mask indoors, with a few exceptions, and restaurants will now be able to end their last call requirements at 11 p.m. The end of these mandates, in place for nearly 15 months, serves as a beacon of hope for the city that the end of the pandemic is within its reach.
However, due to various socio-economic and cultural factors, not all communities in Philadelphia can enjoy the news. While the better-off demographics may breathe a sigh of relief, the fight against COVID-19 is still an ongoing reality for less privileged communities.
Looking at Public The data When it comes to vaccine deployment by race, there is a staggering disparity between vaccination rates between Philadelphians as a whole and Philadelphians of color, especially within the Hispanic community.
As of the week of June 14, the number of Philadelphians 18 and older who received at least one dose was 69% citywide. However, the rate for the Hispanic population is paltry compared to almost half to just 37% of Hispanic individuals in the same age range receiving at least one dose.
This problem becomes even more visible when one focuses on the North Philadelphia postal codes of 19133 and 19134. Both represent Kensington and its surrounding neighborhoods, and are among the highest Hispanic populations in the city, at 65 respectively. , 8% and 49.5% of the total population. .
Postal codes are also among the lowest in terms of vaccination rates, both having fewer than 3,500 people with at least one dose of vaccine per 10,000 people.
Ivonne Garcia, a Philly resident and community activist, was shocked when she heard about the vaccine disparity and focused on the information given to Hispanic communities in Spanish.
“It is important that the information reaches them [the Hispanic community] in Spanish… it’s important for them to have more self-confidence, ”she said.
Closing the language barrier also opens the door to Garcia’s other recommendations, which included more transparency about the cost of the vaccine (there isn’t one and it’s provided free by the federal government) and assurance that residents are eligible to receive the vaccine regardless of their legal status or nationality (they are).
Gloria – who only asked to be identified by first name – is a former volunteer at the Esperanza Health Center COVID-19 vaccination clinics that served the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods of Hunting Park and Kensington.
She recalls witnessing the hesitation and anxiety of some Hispanic patients receiving the vaccine.
“I didn’t know if it was the fear of the injection, the fear of a reaction, the fear of developing blood clots, etc. Gloria said.
She noted that the clinic has tried to make residents as comfortable as possible in an effort to reduce medical mistrust in the community. Overall, Gloria said it was a success on that front.
“I think the clinic was successful because they have the time and space to pay more attention to cultural differences and people’s fear and anxiety.” she said.
Gloria said part of her job was to reassure patients and that she was present and attentive if any of the vaccinees felt unwell.
She also stressed, as did Garcia, that expanding the presence of bilingual vaccination sites to break down the language barrier was a crucial element in facilitating equitable distribution of vaccines in Philadelphia.
Despite the management of the Esperanza clinic and the success of FEMA operating out of the convention center, city-wide data still reveals a hard truth about the socio-economic and cultural barriers that determine who is and who is not protected against COVID-19.
To learn more about the city’s COVID-19 protocol, click here for a connect to the city’s COVID-19 updates home page.