UPMC, York City organization host vaccination events with focus on minorities

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Gov. Tom Wolf elbow bumps York City School District Superintendent Dr. Andrea Berry during a tour visit to Family First Health in York City, Thursday, March 11, 2021. Gov. Wolf praised the health center for their diligence during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for their efforts to get the COVID-19 vaccine to the members of the eligible and sometimes vulnerable members of the community. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A York City-based nonprofit organization and UPMC have joined forces to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics focused on inoculating local minority populations.

Lou Rivera, founder of the Spanish American Multicultural Resource Center, on Monday announced the first vaccination event will take place between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday at the Door of Salvation Church. The church is located at 325 Mulberry St. in York City.

There will be 375 Moderna doses available, which Rivera hopes will benefit the Black and brown residents in York City and surrounding areas, he said.

“I was pretty strategic in choosing the location, because I wanted the east side of town to know that we’re in their area,” Rivera said.

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Rivera said he hopes to hold the events on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. A second event has been scheduled for April 16 at the same location.

The services aren't limited to city residents, nor are they limited to minorities. Providing vaccines to those demographics, though, is the overall goal, Rivera said.

"Many Latino Americans and underserved communities continue to face health disparities, and these communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic," said Tina Nixon, vice president of UPMC Pinnacle's Mission Effectiveness, Diversity & Inclusion team in a statement.

Friday's event will come a week after Gov. Tom Wolf visited Family First Health in York City and acknowledged the state hasn't done enough to quickly and equitably distribute vaccines.

But the state Health Department's racial data is incomplete, so it's difficult to fully grasp discrepancies in vaccine distribution.

For example, 21,817, or 56%, of the 39,136 individuals who have been fully vaccinated in York County are white. In addition, 24,432, or 75% of the 32,841 people who have been partially vaccinated are white.

Lou Rivera is sworn in at the start of the first York City Council meeting of the year, Monday, January 6, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

But racial data is missing for more than 5,000 people who had received doses.

Recent polling has shown that hesitancy surrounding vaccines is roughly equal among white individuals and Black individuals, although Latino respondents were notably less likely to be vaccinated.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of more than 1,000 Americans published last week found that 25% of Black respondents and 28% of white respondents said they did not plan to get vaccinated.

Among Latino respondents, 37% reported they did not plan to get vaccinated.

Nixon said that UPMC has not witnessed that hesitancy from the Latino community when it comes to getting vaccines.

However, she said access to the vaccine has been difficult for many, so the health system has partnered with organizations to improve access in under-served areas.

Those wishing to receive a vaccination at the Friday event must register by calling the resource center at 717-356-2947 or by visiting the center in person at 426 S. George St. in York City.

Vaccinations will be limited to those who fall under the Phase 1A category.

Individuals who fall under the Phase 1A category include health care workers, long-term care facility residents, those ages 65 and older and those ages 16-64 with high-risk conditions. A full list of those who qualify can be found on the state Health Department website here. 

As of Tuesday, York County's case total  hit 37,258, an increase of 92 cases over the day prior. There have been 743 deaths linked to the disease in the county.

Statewide, there have been 970,717 cases as of Tuesday, marking an increase of 3,119 cases over the day prior. About 92% of patients have recovered. There were also 65 new deaths. The statewide death toll now stands at 24,652.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.