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vaccine-racial-disparity
Credit: Ava Cruz

A large racial disparity exists in vaccine registration and distribution in Philadelphia, according to new data.

A recent Billy Penn analysis of the 331,000 residents who had registered in the Philadelphia vaccine interest databases found geographic disparities that correlate into racial divides. In a majority Latino area in Kensington and North Philadelphia that had been hit particularly hard by the virus, only seven percent of residents had registered. Meanwhile, 55% of residents in Center City had registered. Every area where the registration rates were 30% or higher were majority-white areas.

This registration disparity reflects the disparities in the actual distribution of the vaccine as well. Billy Penn reported that about three in 10 residents of wealthier areas downtown have already received their first dose of the vaccine while in a nearby majority-Black area, the rate is only three in 50 residents.

Disparities have only increased since the opening of the FEMA vaccination clinic at the Convention Center. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, before the FEMA site opened, vaccination rates for white residents had been 11.9% and only 6.4% for Black residents. Since the clinic opened in early March, that 5.5 percentage point gap has nearly doubled--the rate for white residents is now 21.9% and merely 11.4% for Black residents.

According to Billy Penn, several obstacles for vaccine registration, such as lack of internet access, lack of information about eligibility, and language barriers have contributed to the gap.

“Outreach to the community is critical in terms of understanding eligibility, and addressing disinformation and myths about vaccines,” Steven Lavín, deputy director of the immigrant help hub National Services Center, told Billy Penn.

Last Wednesday, the FEMA site started a six day program allowing walk-ups from residents of the 22 poorest zip codes in Philadelphia in an effort to narrow the gap, Billy Penn reported.

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