Philly's Black Vaccination Rates Remain Low
The recent announcement by the Philadelphia school district seemed to catch many off guard: starting Monday (today) … “all students and staff to wear masks in schools, offices, and on buses and vans starting Monday until further notice,” reports Chalkbeat. “The decision to return to masks was recommended by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health due to rising COVID-19 case counts, said Superintendent William Hite in an email to staff Friday.”
As Philadelphia residents had fallen back into an unmasked normal, a new universal masking directive might come as a surprise. But, if you’re paying attention to the COVID case and hospitalization rates, it really shouldn’t, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer …
In Philadelphia, the case rate has risen 91% in the last two weeks, well above the national average, according to an analysis of New York Times data by The Inquirer. Philadelphia is averaging about 434 new cases a day over the last week.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise. As of Wednesday, there were 142 patients in Philadelphia hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 82% over the last two weeks. Among those hospitalized for COVID-related illness, most are not fully vaccinated, said Tony S. Reed, chief medical officer at Temple Health.
More worrisome are low Black vaccination rates in Philadelphia, which continue to lag behind every other demographic group. It’s a majority Black city - and if Black vaccination rates are low, spurring Black COVID case and hospitalization rates, that means the city’s overall COVID condition remains bleak. Take a look at the Philadelphia Public Health department’s vaccination dashboard updated just last week …
Across all age groups, Black Philadelphia vaccination rates have remained fairly stagnant at an average 54 percent - the lowest of any demographic group. Populations must be at 75 percent vaccination to reach any level of broader “herd immunity.” Only Black vaccination rates ages 45-64 are slightly higher than White vaccination rates in the same age group. Black vaccine uptake in the 5-11 age bracket are alarming at just 21 percent - although COVID vaccine availability for younger children is relatively recent. Still, it remains at 50 percent for Black residents 12-17 years old.
These rates have stayed relatively flat since February. Cases have risen dramatically since the city lifted it’s universal indoor masking measure in April.
There is still an urgent need to encourage Philadelphia’s Black populations to vaccinate. Stay tuned for more updates from our LOVEPhilly campaign.