As Delta variant hits unvaccinated white and black communities, community doctors encourage vaccination
Michael, 44, was sitting outside T-Mobile on Third Street in Bayview, smoking a cigarette. He will “never” have the vaccine, he insisted.
“Big Pharma just wants to maintain. They want you to come back for the medicine. I think they get paid for every vaccination they promote, or a benefit, or a bonus. “
In general, most of the people Michael knows in the neighborhood are “more against than against” about vaccinations, he said, in part because of the mistreatment of the black community by the media and medical institutions. .
In fact, some 81 percent of Bayviews residents are vaccinatedd – place it among the most vaccinated districts of the city. But in the midst of a wave of the highly transmissible Delta variant that “comes on faster and has a higher viral load, which certainly increases infectivity,” anyone who is unvaccinated is vulnerable, said Dr Carina Marquez of UCSF.
“It’s true whether it’s white, black or any ethnicity,” added Dr Naveena Bobba, deputy director of health at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Much like Michael’s low-income neighborhood in Bayview was in the midst of a covid outbreak, just behind his outbreak are two rich census tracts in Mission Bay and nearby Embarcadero.
Marquez said studies show researchers “have seen an increased risk of hospitalization” with the delta variant, but the vaccinations are effective.
So far, San Francisco’s inpatient population has not been vaccinated.
Low vaccination rates hit black and white residents, young people show up in hospitals
Black and white residents have the lowest vaccination rates in the city with 60 percent of eligible black residents and 65 percent of white residents vaccinated. This compares to 78% for Asians and 72% for Latinx residents.
Vaccination rates are higher in the elderly population – 90 percent in the white population and 84 percent in the black population. With lower vaccination rates among young people, it’s no surprise that the age of hospitalized covid patients has dropped.
At the start of the pandemic, the vast majority of hospitalized covid patients were 60 years old. Today, the average age is 48, according to Bobba. Additionally, 25 percent of those hospitalized are 35 and under and nearly 18 percent are 25 and under, she said.
For black residents, UCSF researcher Dr Kim Rhoads called it a “perfect storm.” Loose mask mandates and low vaccination rates among some populations are leading to further spread.
“This means black people will definitely be overrepresented in the ongoing string of deaths that we will see from COVID due to the recent and rapid increase in cases,” Rhoads said.
Indeed, health officials said they saw a disproportionate number of black residents in the hospital. Black residents, the mayor of London Breed said last week, make up 28% of people hospitalized for Covid despite making up just 5% of the city’s population.
While white San Francisco residents are vaccinated at the second lowest rate, privileges such as a higher paying home job and a lower likelihood of overcrowded housing are likely the reason they do not show up to the hospital. in disproportionate numbers, said Bobba.
These disparities are the reason health officials are striving to increase vaccination rates among black residents. However, community members understand how difficult it can be when the past treatment of black residents remains in recent memory.
“Certainly the African American community has a very healthy mistrust of the medical institution… and in the mainstream media,” said Dr. Monique LeSarre, executive director of Rafiki Coalition Leadership, a black welfare organization in San Francisco. .
Michael’s comments on the virus underscored this mistrust. The coronavirus, he said, was no more deadly than “regular flu” and “it’s the media pushing it. It’s an agenda.
Still, that hasn’t stopped others from getting vaccinated, even with similar concerns. “I’m here working on the front lines, so I have to think long term. I don’t want anything to happen to my family, ”said Chika Mezie, who works at the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a local community organization.
And it’s spreading fast where Mezie lives Census tract 231.03 near India Basin Shoreline Park, a lot not too far away where Micheal lives in the Bayview. Census tract 231.03 now has the city’s highest new case rate of 107.27 per 10,000 population, based on data from June 16 to July 15. It is also one of the poorest in the city with a median household income of less than $ 25,000.
Just west of there at Stony Hill, Census tract 231.02 has the second highest case rate – 50.5 cases per 100,000 population and an average household income of less than $ 40,000 per year.
Over 50 percent of the residents of each census tract are black. To reach them, Bobba said DPH and its community partners are changing their strategy. “People have their own path,” she said. “Some of the interventions that we did in the beginning with events, social media or ad campaigns or incentives, these first helped. But I think this next phase is really about one-on-one communications with family members, with trusted members of the community, with healthcare professionals. It’s much more concentrated. ”
Community members and doctors like LeSarre and Rhoads have also set up “traveling pop-ups” where vans or home visits can deliver the vaccine to residents who have not yet received it in these areas. great need. These, too, are based on one-on-one conversations.
“[Black and Latinx residents are] not in the conversation. Then you don’t have a chance to move them or change their opinion. And they call it reluctance, ”Rhoads said. “It’s racialized because, like I’ve said so many times, you have whole pockets of people in Marin who are ‘anti-vaccines.’ They’re never called vaccine hesitant.
White neighborhoods are also impacted
After the two Bayview EAs, the two most affected neighborhoods in the last wave are contiguous Census Tract 607 in Mission Bay with a new case rate of 25 per 10,000 and nearby Embarcadero Census tract 615, which has a case rate of 23 per 10,000 based on data from June 16 to July 15.
White and Asian residents make up over 80% of residents in both census tracts, and the median household income in Mission Bay is $ 161,000 and $ 208,000 in the SoMa census tract.
A post-doctoral student at the University of California at San Francisco on the Mission Bay, Tianyi campus said she received several emails from the school warning that cases are reoccurring. His lab recently reversed its decision to forgo indoor masks, even among vaccinated students.
Public health officials attribute the increase to unvaccinated residents coming out more.
Contact tracing seems to work even less among young people
Contact tracing efforts, which could help contain the tide, appear to be failing. According to city data, in the past two weeks, only 75% of contacts who may have been exposed have been reached. This shows “moderate alert”, which is the second worst rating in this category.
“I don’t know if it’s a failure of that system, as much as an overhaul that we need to do,” said LeSarre.
Bobba said contact tracing in the younger population who fall ill has proven to be more difficult. They don’t come back, they’re less likely to pick up the phone.
“Maybe it’s just the nature of how they perceive the disease and how they perceive contact tracing,” Bobba said. “So it’s also a bit of a change that worries me.”
Here is a link to a map showing where and when there are vaccines available in Mission Bay Point and Bayview Hunter. And here is a list of all the vaccination sites in the city.