SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — COVID-19 vaccines are now in the arms of some homeless people at the San Diego Convention Center. The City and the County of San Diego are working together to get the vaccines to traditionally underserved populations.
Homeless individuals 65 and over who are staying at the San Diego Convention Center are getting their COVID-19 vaccines. City firefighters are administering the shots.
"We have to be laser-focused and doing everything we can to defeat COVID-19," San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said. "So that means the City of San Diego stepping into a public health role that isn't often what we do, but we do have the ability to do it."
The county gave the city 1,2000 doses of the vaccine this week. While most will be given to essential city workers over 65 at Balboa Park, around 100 are specifically allocated to the Convention Center's homeless population. The Mayor says his hope is to assist the county in both outreach and inoculations to serve these communities.
"We believe that we can provide surge capacity to get to some of our harder to reach communities and get to the other classifications who are not necessarily prioritized at the moment," Gloria said.
While the vaccinations at the Convention Center is a step in the right direction, the NAACP San Diego alerted the county that there are still groups of San Diegans who are not being served. They say the black and brown populations are getting vaccinated at less than half the rate they should be.
They argued that while Black San Diegans represent 4.7% of the population, only 2.1% of all shots have gone to African Americans. While LatinX makes up 33% of the population, only 13.6% of the vaccines have gone to that group.
County Board of Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher explained that the county's demographics are not the same as the people who are being vaccinated now, so the statistics should not be compared.
"The demographics of healthcare workers and the demographics of seniors are different than the demographics of the county as a whole," Fletched said.
Fletcher added that the county is working with nonprofits to tackle the equity issue for minority communities most impacted by the pandemic.