The inequitable rollout of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 vaccination program carries on as African-Americans continue to lag far behind other racial groups when it comes to receiving vaccines.
After more than a month into the city’s vaccination program, Black Philadelphians make up a mere 12.3% of the 115,197 administered COVID-19 vaccines, which included both first and second doses, according to city data. African Americans make up 44% of the city’s population.
Whites account for 52.3% of all vaccinations but make up 34% of the city’s population, according to the city data.
The percentage of vaccines administered to Black residents has remained relatively flat since the Kenney administration began reporting racial demographic data for its vaccination program at the start of January.
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said he had no updates about what steps hospitals were taking to reduce the vaccine racial gap. (The Kenney administration tasked hospitals with flatting out the vaccine racial gap at the start of January.)
“I can assure you hospitals are working on that,” said the city’s top doctor.
Dr. Caroline Johnson, the city’s deputy health commissioner, said the Kenney administration has “preferentially placed” vaccines in federally qualified health centers and city health centers, which are located in majority-minority neighborhoods, in an effort to reduce the vaccine racial gap.
Johnson said people of color were “well represented” among those who received vaccines at those health centers, but did not have specific figures.
“I expect that we’re going to see improvement in the racial breakdown of vaccination in the coming weeks,” Johnson said.
Last week Philadelphia health officials expanded the city’s vaccine program to include essential workers and people over 75 years old. When COVID-19 vaccines first arrived in the city in mid-December, hospitals received the bulk of them and were tasked with administering the vaccines to their eligible healthcare workers.
Hispanics also are underrepresented among those who have received COVID-19 vaccines. Hispancis accounted for 3.1% of all administered vaccines.
City officials reported 568 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 104,484 since the pandemic arrived in Philadelphia in March 2020. Twenty-five additional virus-related deaths were reported, bringing the total to 2,821.
The city continues to receive approximately 20,000 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines a week, which is expected to remain stable through the end of February, officials said.
With vaccines in short supply, Farley called on residents to remain vigilant against spreading the virus, which included avoiding indoor gatherings with people from outside your household.
“The vaccine will not help us get through this winter wave,” Farley said. “We simply do not have enough doses for us to have an impact with this vaccination on the epidemic right now.”