Black Doctors COVID Consortium prepares for vaccinations

by Walt Maguire
Posted 1/28/21

The Black Doctors COVID Consortium (BDCC), a volunteer organization formed in April 2020 to assist with COVID-19 testing, is gearing up to add vaccine distribution.

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Black Doctors COVID Consortium prepares for vaccinations

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The Black Doctors COVID Consortium (BDCC), a volunteer organization formed in April 2020 to assist with COVID-19 testing, is gearing up to add vaccine distribution.

Qualifying city residents can complete an online form to request vaccination. Vaccinations will be part of the city’s Phase 1B plan, and scheduled in the order received.

The PHASE 1B distribution is for Philadelphia residents that the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) has identified as a high risk for exposure performing essential duties, or individuals with a high risk of morbidity/mortality, such as long-term care residents or those with high-risk medical conditions.

BDCC has been offering free COVID-19 testing at mobile sites in Philadelphia neighborhoods since April 2020. Dr. Ala Stanford grew frustrated with the lack of testing, and alarmed that over 50% of the coronavirus patient deaths in Philadelphia were black residents. In the early days of the pandemic, much of the testing happened at health facilities or at drive-through sites, which meant people without a medical appointment, or a car, had a difficult time getting checked. There were several factors—a lack of insurance, jobs in the service sector—but the overall factor seemed to be working class neighborhoods.

Dr. Stanford recognized a need for “barrier free” testing. She quickly found allies in community and medical groups. The consortium became an initiative of It Takes Philly, Inc., a 501c3 educational program “to expose children to professions that exist within and outside of their communities, to show them that we as professional people and members of society are invested and care about their future.”

BDCC began to open testing events in underserved communities, primarily in North and Northwest Philadelphia. Testing sites have included churches, several Mastery Charter Schools, and other locations in neighborhoods. It is not uncommon for the line to be over a block long. The volunteer staff see hundreds in a few hours.

Things became more complicated in January, when Philly Fighting Covid (PFC), a group partnered with the PDPH, suddenly stopped testing services to pivot to vaccine distribution. On Monday, the city announced they were ending the partnership with PFC entirely and set up a new registration system for vaccinations, but that still left a gap in testing availability. The inauguration on January 20 added another change, as the first stages of a national testing and vaccination policy were introduced. This increased pressure on the BDCC as a source for testing, vaccination, and information on where to find services.

The vaccination process is further complicated by shortages and distribution. Health organizations and other essential services are allotted the vaccine based on availability and selection criteria. The PDPH has set phases based on level of need: 1A, healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients and long-term care residents over 75; 1B, the current phase; 1C, lower-risk essential workers and persons 65-74 years; and Phase 2, individuals 16 years and older. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has a new Vaccine Interest Form.

On January 28, BDCC is providing free testing at Mastery Charter School, 3701 N. 19th, and distributing vaccine to enrolled participants at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 2001 W. Lehigh Ave.

Find additional location and times for testing or request vaccination at  blackdoctorsconsortium.com.

Donations: gofundme.com/f/covid19-BDCC.

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