In an effort to increase vaccination rates in Black neighborhoods, the Biden administration on Saturday staged the first-ever “Nationwide Vaccination Day,” implementing vaccine pop-ups in 21 locations.
The activity was a component of the larger “We Can Do This” COVID-19 Vaccine Public Education Campaign of the White House. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) teamed up with neighborhood organizations including the Black Nurse Collaborative, Top Ladies of Distinction, and 100 Black Men of America to offer free immunizations to local residents.
Numerous cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, and D.C., have set up temporary immunization facilities. According to a statement from the White House, the purpose of these gatherings was to address racial health care imbalances.
A bivalent booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has only been administered to less than 10% of eligible Black people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Approximately 16% of eligible white people and 22% of eligible Asians have had a booster, while the CDC warned that these numbers are probably underestimates because of a lack of demographic information.
The Biden administration source acknowledged that new boosters and instructions may have caused some confusion, but said that one of the goals of these events was to inform people about their eligibility for more immunizations.
Recent guidance on vaccine eligibility from federal authorities allows most patients, regardless of prior vaccination status, to obtain a single dose of the bivalent booster.
However, there were some complicated exclusions made for high-risk populations like the elderly, young children, and some immunocompromised people.
The weekend vaccination clinics did not demand identification, proof of insurance, or documentation of previous vaccines.
Members of the Black Nurse Collaborative held the vaccine pop-up in Washington, D.C., at the New Bethel Baptist Church, where they gave willing recipients doses of the bivalent booster shot.
“We are here because as Black nurses, we understand the impact that COVID has had on all of our communities, but particularly the black and brown community with the health disparities that we experienced,” Meedie Bardonille, founder and president of Black Nurse Collaborative, told the media.
On Saturday, a modest but consistent stream of residents entered the parking lot of the New Bethel Baptist Church, many of them drawn in by the flashy buses that were sporadically circling the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Outside the vaccination site, a small group of anti-vaccination protesters also congregated.
Bardonille claimed that people’s primary motivation for receiving a vaccination on that particular day was a desire to maintain their health.
Maria Hall, who told The Hill she had been intending to get a booster for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it, was one of those who received one on Saturday. She was inspired to obtain the booster dose after seeing the event as she walked past the church.
Dexter Nutall, the minister of New Bethel Baptist, expressed his hope that the event on Saturday would serve as a model for future neighborhood involvement.
“This kind of provides a precedent for us to ensure that whether we’re talking about COVID or whether we’re talking about the flu or whether we’re talking about the common cold or whether we’re talking about mental health, that there is a portal of access for people to be able to reach. And as a trusted community stakeholder, we want to be part of that,” Nutall said.