Progress seen in city on improving access to vaccines: report

Philadelphia seems to slowly be improving economic equity when it comes to vaccine distribution.

As recently as late February, the five Philly ZIP codes with the lowest median income were also the least vaccinated. As of March 22, that’s no longer the case, according to a Billy Penn analysis of city data.

The change shows progress in the concerted effort to address under-vaccination in certain pockets. The FEMA site added six days of walk-up appointments for people in those areas, and the Philly Health Department has so far opened seven once-a-week neighborhood community clinics. Healthcare groups and hospitals have also been ramping up mobile vaccine clinics to reach Philly seniors and other vulnerable residents, the Inquirer reported.

An imbalance persists, however, with Center City and Northwest Philadelphia ZIP codes still seeing the highest vaccination rates — areas that are either mostly white or higher income.

Some of the lowest vaccination rates can be found in mostly Black and Latino areas, regardless of income.

Strawberry Mansion’s 19121 zip code, for example, has one of the city’s lowest median incomes of $21k, but now sports a vaccination rate of 2 in 10 residents. That’s higher than, for example, the vaccination rate in East Oak Lane’s 19126 zip, where the median income is more than double that of Strawberry Mansion.

The ZIP with the highest vaccination rate is 19102 at about 4.3 in 10 residents. Notably, the area is neither the richest or the whitest, but has one of the highest percentages of Asian residents.

There was a notable spike in vaccinations among residents of Asian descent over the past three weeks, ending with 28% of the city’s Asian population inoculated, according to Health Department data. That’s higher than the percentage of the city’s white population (27%).

Meanwhile, about 14% of Black Philly residents have gotten vaccinated, and 12% of Hispanic residents.  In general, majority Black and Latino neighborhoods remain less represented among vaccine recipients.

Middle income neighborhoods ranging between about $45,000 to $53,000, including the mostly Black Cedarbrook neighborhood in 19150 and the mostly white West Passyunk area in 19145, have pretty even rates — about 2.2 and 2.4 out of 10, respectively.

Nearly 4 in 10 people in mostly white downtown areas have already received their first dose. A few miles away, in a predominantly Black pocket of Southwest Philly, the rate plummets to only about 1 in 10 residents. It’s been the lowest ratio among the city’s ZIP codes since Billy Penn started tracking earlier this month.

Residents vs non-residents
The number of Philadelphia doses going to people who actually live in the city continues to rise. Out of 445k partial vaccinations recorded by the Health Department as of March 22, Philly residents accounted for 305k of them, or 69%.

That percentage is up significantly from late February, when just 56% of first doses had gone to residents. It’s also slightly higher than two weeks ago, when the portion of first doses going to Philadelphians was 65%.

When it comes to full vaccinations, the count was 175k people total as of this week, with residents making up 60%.

Who’s getting the other doses? Mostly people who work in Philly but don’t live in the city, including hospital staff, teachers, police officers and firefighters.

From Billy Penn


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