City residents, officials voice concerns about equitable vaccine distribution

#AFROCoronavirusUpdate

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Covid-19 vaccine packs. (By Skorzewiak_Shutterstock)

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
syoes@afro.com

After several weeks of decreasing numbers in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the numbers in recent days have begun to creep up again. This, perhaps, indicates the possibility of another deadly surge according to several medical and science experts. Those fears make vaccination distribution critically important in the mitigation of the deadly disease.

Baltimore City received its first doses of vaccination in late December, which went to essential public health professionals that ultimately administered vaccinations to the rest of the public. This began phase 1A of vaccine distribution in the city. 

The state is currently in phase 2B, which began on March 30. 

Even as vaccination distribution continued in Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott voiced some concern earlier in March that almost as many Baltimore County residents had been vaccinated compared to city residents. According to the Baltimore City Health Department, just under 38% of people who received their first dose of  a COVID-19 vaccine were city residents, versus approximately 31% who were residents of Baltimore County.

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“My administration is committed to transparency and equity in the vaccine and distribution process and I am glad we can provide our residents with a look ahead at the schedule of our vaccination sites, mobile clinics and allotment,” said Mayor Scott at a recent press conference. “This critical information is key to many as they plan the best way to get themselves and their loved ones vaccinated. We must continue to practice the mitigation efforts that have saved lives thus far while we focus on vaccinating our most vulnerable residents,” Scott added.

During that same press conference Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa addressed continued hesitancy on the part of city residents in getting vaccinated.

“I’d like to be clear with all city residents: having a vaccine is better than no vaccine,” she said. “Again, all of the vaccines have been proven effective at preventing illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Additionally, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been tested and shows efficacy against the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus,” Dr. Dzirasa added.

Still, one of the leaders of the Sandtown-Winchester community of West Baltimore, one of the most impoverished communities in the city characterized the distribution of vaccines as “inadequate.”

“Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park/Easterwood necessitated, increased and improved on the ground work to bring some semblance of equity in distribution,” Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, CEO of the Matthew Henson Community Development Corporation, said. 

“If [Baltimore City Health Department] hasn’t, it needs to immediately target mass distribution sites: Coppin State University, Sharon Baptist Church, Gilmor Homes, Rosemont Gardens, Harvey Johnson Towers, Simmons Baptist Church, Avenue Market, Trinity Baptist, St. James Episcopal and Sandtown Senior Center,” Cheatham added.

To see if you are eligible for vaccination or to pre-register for a vaccination, please go to: coronavirus.maryland.gov.