Humboldt Park

Community Activists Call on City to Increase Vaccination Access in Latino Communities

The CEO at Humboldt Park Health said the positivity rate in the community is three times that of the city's and state's rates

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Renewed calls came Wednesday to increase coronavirus vaccination access in Chicago's Latino communities.

As of Wednesday, the city has administered more than 200,000 doses, but community activists said they're not being distributed in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the virus.

"When we look at [the] positivity rate at the state, it’s somewhere around 5.4%. Here, it’s about 16%," said Jose Sanchez, the CEO at Humboldt Park Health, formerly Norwegian Hospital. "That means we are being affected disproportionately more than any other group."

Humboldt Park is one of Chicago's 15 hardest hit communities by COVID-19, data showed, and elected officials said important resources from the city are lacking.

"I only know in the 26th ward two places people can get vaccinated," 26th ward alderman Roberto Maldonado said. "Humboldt Park Health and Eerie Family Center."

Sanchez said Humboldt Park Health is prepared to vaccinate more community members, but it isn't able to get the supply needed.

"We have the infrastructure. We could do a lot more than we are doing today if we have the vaccines we need here," Sanchez said.

Participants in a Zoom conference call, organized by the Puerto Rican Agenda, acknowledged the vaccine supply at the state level is limited but called on the mayor to distribute what is available more equitably.

"What we are asking is within the context of inventory available, that it would be distributed based upon need," Maldonado said.

The mayor's office said it is taking equity into account and prioritizing providers in communities hit hardest by COVID-19.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced the Protect Chicago Plus plan to guide the City’s vaccine distribution and ensure that vaccines reach the individuals and communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially Black and Latinx residents.

The neighborhoods initially targe​ted in Protect Chicago Plus were West Englewood, New City, Gage Park, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Roseland, Archer Heights, Washington Heights, Austin, Montclare, South Deering, Belmont Cragin and Humboldt Park.

According to the city's data, white Chicagoans have received 64,312 first doses, compared to 24,586 Black Chicagoans and 25,571 Latinos as of Wednesday.

"It’s been, I’m sorry, a failure by the city and state to get it to our communities," community activist and pastor Emma Lozano said. "If there’s a ration, put them in the communities that need it the most."

The group has been calling on city officials to follow a four-point model and education plan that includes designating Humboldt Park Health as a vaccination hub; that accommodates multigenerational homes in vaccination; activates an educational campaign using community health advocates in the most vulnerable zip codes; and expands President Joe Biden’s call for establishing a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps to mobilize at least 100,000 people across the country to perform contact tracing.

You can track Chicago vaccinations by zip code here.

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