Oct 22, 2021 - COVID

How one local leader is pushing for COVID boosters

Illustration of a pattern of syringes, with a spotlight on one of them.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

At the Triangle View Apartments on B Street SE, Beatrice Evans, 68, is helping her neighbors get their shots.

On Oct. 27, Evans, the building’s tenant association president, is organizing a vaccine clinic to offer COVID-19 booster shots to the residents, largely Black seniors.

Why it matters: 49 of the 50 D.C. residents who since June have died of COVID-19 were Black, according to an analysis of DC Health data first reported by DCist.

Sixty percent of those residents who died of COVID-19 lived in Wards 7 and 8 and most were unvaccinated.

  • As DCist reported, despite efforts by officials and community leaders to extend vaccine outreach, Ward 7 and 8 lag behind the rest of the city in the percentage of fully vaccinated residents.

The big picture: DCist reports that since the start of the pandemic, 77% of all D.C. residents who have died from COVID-19 have been Black, demonstrating the health inequities and racial disparities that the pandemic has further exposed.

  • In New York City, racism was recently declared a public health crisis, and the D.C. Council met last year to discuss doing the same.
  • Evans lives in Fort Dupont, where over 70% of the 65+ population (about 12.9% of that neighborhood) is fully vaccinated — but less than 40% of all residents are fully vaccinated, according to an analysis of DC Health data by DCCOVID.com.

Meanwhile, just under 15,000 D.C. residents have received a COVID-19 booster shot as of Oct. 11, according to DC Health data.

  • Additional COVID-19 shots have been authorized for moderate- to severe-immunocompromised people while some people, including those over the age of 65, who received Pfizer vaccines more than six months ago are now eligible for boosters.

Catch up fast: The FDA on Wednesday authorized booster shots for those who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and also gave the green light for people to get booster shots that are different from the vaccine they initially received.

  • On Thursday, CDC vaccine advisors approved Moderna and J&J booster shots.

Flashback: Earlier this year, Evans was behind an effort to get her 100-unit apartment building vaccinated against COVID-19, Washington City Paper reported.

  • As Black residents, mostly seniors, eligible for their shots struggled to find appointments, Evans called her council member, Ward 7’s Vincent Gray, and knocked on doors to garner interest in a vaccine clinic for the building.

Evans is a lifelong Washingtonian who moved to Fort Dupont at age 16 and she says she has lived all over the city, before returning to that neighborhood.

  • “I’ve seen so much death … and depression,” she adds. “I’m just trying to find a way to bring some joy or a way to relieve some of that. I’m just trying to find solutions to some of the problems going on in my community.”

What’s next: When some of her neighbors began asking about booster shots, Evans started working on getting shots into arms. She has kept up-to-date on vaccine information, consulting her pastor to help answer her neighbors’ questions and concerns.

  • Evans says for the Oct. 27 clinic she is coordinating with a local health center.
  • Evans tells Axios that most of the 65 people registered for the clinic will receive a Pfizer booster shot, while some others will get their first vaccine dose. Others are interested in boosters, Evan says, but received the Moderna vaccine and are waiting to see when they might be eligible for their booster.

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