Concerns about local "vaccine deserts" as COVID-19 delta variant dominates

"I think there's a fear that there will be outbreaks in vaccine deserts and places where there's not much vaccination."
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's a race against time as officials and healthcare workers step up their efforts to get more people vaccinated as the COVID-19 delta variant spreads to our region.

"You have to meet them where they, are which is in their communities," said Dr. Ala Stanford of the COVID-19 Black Doctors Consortium.

Dr. Stanford said people are not getting vaccinated either because they firmly believe in conspiracy theories or getting the vaccine just hasn't been convenient.

"It can't just be a campaign for a couple of weeks," said Stanford. "It has to be persistent and consistent so people know when they're ready you're going to be there."

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Across the bridge in New Jersey, COVID-19 cases shot up 38% from a week ago.

"It cannot be understated that these numbers continue to be driven by the unvaccinated," said Governor Phil Murphy. "The delta variant, which is now more highly contagious and more dangerous regardless of age group, is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus."

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Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have now identified 13 delta variant cases of COVID-19 in the Philadelphia region.

"I think a lot of folks are worried what's going to happen as we get more and more delta in our area and we go into the fall and the seasonal effects kind of reverses itself," said Frederic Bushman, professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania. "I think there's a fear that there will be outbreaks in vaccine deserts and places where there's not much vaccination."

The lowest vaccinated zip codes in Philadelphia include areas like West Philadelphia and Logan, Ogontz and Fern Rock, according to our 6abc Data Journalism Team.

A spokesperson for the City of Philadelphia Health Department said outreach workers are still going door to door to inform people about the vaccine, the city is handing out Phillies tickets as part of a sweepstakes and it runs pop-up clinics in different neighborhoods.

The city is averaging about 24 new cases per day and has administered 44,000 vaccines in the last two weeks.
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