Inspired by the success of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, a group of Latino physicians and nurses is applying for city funding to provide vaccine access for Philadelphia’s significantly undervaccinated Latino communities.
Dubbing itself Unidos Contra COVID (United Against COVID), the group is among the organizations that has submitted an application in response to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s request for proposals for vaccine providers. They applied in early March and are awaiting a response any day. The group said it would aim to get vaccines to both Black and Latino Philadelphians.
“These historically marginalized groups have ample precedent to distrust traditional vaccination campaigns, and a consistent request from the people is the presence of vaccination centers located in the heart of their neighborhoods, staffed by people who are culturally and linguistically attuned to their needs,” the group wrote in its application.
While Black Philadelphians are underrepresented among those already vaccinated in Philadelphia, Latinos are being vaccinated at an even slower rate: Latinos make up 15% of Philadelphians, but less than 6% of those already vaccinated. Black people comprise 40% of the city’s population and just over 20% of those vaccinated.
Other cities that receive their own vaccine allotment from the CDC have had more success vaccinating Latinos in proportion to their population. In Chicago, which is 29% Latino, the vaccination rate for that group started, as it did in Philly, disproportionately low. As of March 10 though, 30% of Chicago’s vaccinations had gone to Latinos. In Washington, D.C., where the population is only 11% Latino, 9% of the district’s shots have gone to Latinos.
Latinos in Philadelphia have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 as well, with higher death rates and hospitalization rates among the older adult population than any other racial or ethnic group.