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A new partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will aim to increase vaccine accessibility and availability to those in need. Photo Credits: AL DÍA Archives/Insider.com
A new partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will aim to increase vaccine accessibility and availability to those in need. Photo Credits: AL DÍA Archives/Insider.com

School District of Philadelphia partners with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to increase vaccine availability across Philly

As a result of this new partnership, a series of vaccination clinics will launch across numerous Philly schools. 

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With the Omicron variant continuing to surge across the city, a new partnership is aiming to increase vaccination and raise awareness about its critical importance.

On Monday, Jan. 17, the School District of Philadelphia announced a new partnership with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium (BDCC). 

Supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters will become more readily available in schools for students, parents, and families throughout the District. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, the District has worked very closely with entities … obviously, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium has been one of the more accomplished organizations in terms of reaching an audience that might be underserved traditionally,” said Monica Lewis, deputy chief of communications/spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia. 

Conversations have evolved between the District and the BDCC throughout the course of the pandemic — from providing information about COVID to increasing access to testing and vaccines within different age groups, to now providing children between the ages of 5 and 11, along with their families, with access to the vaccine. 

As of Jan. 12 — two months after Pfizer authorized its COVID vaccine — just 27% of children ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while only 18% (or 5 million children) have received both doses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Our communication throughout this time has been to see how we can work together to best support our students, our staff and our families,” said Lewis. 

“We understand that there’s a lower rate of vaccination in certain communities, so we’re working with [Dr. Ala Stanford] to make sure that communities get the service they need,” added Lewis. 

In a statement, Dr. Stanford said the key to any public health crisis is to go to the people. 

“The partnership with the School District of Philadelphia will make it very easy for children and their families to get vaccinated and help keep our communities safer as the pandemic continues,” she noted. 

The first program born out of this partnership began with a vaccine clinic for students, staff, and families on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at Paul Robeson High School for Human Services between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Paul Roberson High School is the venue of the first two vaccination clinics born out of the partnership between the Philadelphia School District and the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. Photo Credit: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

The second, taking place on Thursday, Jan. 20, will also be held at Robeson High School, but will welcome any individuals eligible for the vaccine, regardless of their affiliation with the school. That clinic will take place from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the school. 

The remainder of the clinics will take place at G.W. Childs Elementary School, Roberto Clemente Elementary School, Juniata Park Elementary School, Fels High School, Mastbaum High School, Webster Elementary School, E.W. Rhodes Elementary School and Willard Elementary School, with the final vaccination clinic taking place on Saturday, February 18. 

“We wanted to make sure that we hit different parts of the city. They’re all located in different parts of the city and communities that have seen lower vaccination rates over the last couple of months.” said Lewis.  

“We want to make sure we get those numbers up so that people in those communities are equipped with what they need to fight COVID, but also if they happen to become positive, that they can cope with it better,” she added. 

In addition to vaccination stations set up inside of select schools, the initiative will include a Federal Emergency Management Agency-sponsored mobile van unit that the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will take throughout the city vaccinating community based organizations and also non-school district individuals during school hours.

A list of all the District vaccinations can be found here. Students will also have the ability to receive the vaccine at healthcare clinics, pharmacies and other locations throughout the city and at school-hosted events. 

Lewis noted the importance of getting vaccinated in helping finally conquer the pandemic. 

“We understand that science shows that vaccinations are an effective mitigation factor … it does help a lot more than people who are not vaccinated,” she said. 

This effort and partnership is the city’s next step in the fight against COVID. 

Additional information can be found by visiting the City of Philadelphia’s website or www.vaccines.gov

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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