Reps. Kinsey, Fitzgerald host COVID-19 vaccine news conference

PHILADELPHIA, March 5 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Isabella Fitzgerald, both D-Phila., today hosted a news conference on bolstering COVID-19 vaccine accessibility in Northwest Philadelphia.

They were joined by representatives from Rite Aid, Einstein Hospital and Chestnut Hill Hospital; state and city elected officials; and local community leaders.

Today’s news conference comes after Kinsey and Fitzgerald, who represent the 201st and 203rd Legislative districts, respectively, in parts of Northwest Philadelphia, recently unveiled their Northwest COVID-19 Coalition—comprising local activists, clergy members, elected officials and medical professionals —aimed at providing free COVID-19 testing, information and other mitigation measures to residents in Northwest Philadelphia.

In the wake of the vaccine rollout, the legislators at the helm of the coalition have now focused efforts to ensure historically disenfranchised groups and communities also have fair access to vaccine options, partnering with Rite Aid, which had recently announced that it will provide vaccines to city residents at its Ogontz Avenue location.

Kinsey highlighted the disparities in cases among city neighborhoods and compared it to the equally disproportionate vaccine reception.

“Philadelphia has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic and when adjusted by ZIP codes in neighborhoods that are predominately of color or economically distressed, we’ve seen cases and deaths become disproportionately high,” Kinsey said. “We’re also seeing jarring contrasts in who benefits from most vaccine distribution operations, and many of the most impacted communities are severely underrepresented.”

“This is why we formed the Northwest COVID-19 Coalition, so residents can become informed and leverage control in surviving this virus. I am thankful for Rite Aid, Einstein and Chestnut Hill Hospitals, and Oak Street Health for joining efforts in helping to make this lifesaving vaccine accessible to residents, especially those who most need it most.”

Fitzgerald echoed similar sentiments on ensuring equity in the vaccine distribution.

“While we have endured the wrath of this pandemic for a year now, we still seem to be miles away from equitably helping all those affected and those who are at the greatest risk for illness,” Fitzgerald said. “It is time to provide guidance and seek serious solutions to getting everyone a vaccine who needs one and who wants one regardless of where they live. That’s the only way we will get to the other side of things.”

State Rep. Chris Rabb, who represents the 200th Legislative District, also in parts of Northwest Philadelphia, and was present at the event, stressed the need for vaccine distribution to revolve around community collaboration.

“Our collective response to this pandemic must revolve around community-centered collaboration to ensure equitable access to vaccines that are safe and effective for those neighborhoods most deeply impacted by COVID-19.”

Other speakers included:

    • U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, 3rd Congressional District.  
    • Sen. Art Haywood, SD-4.
    • City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, 8th District. 
    • Sirinivasan Pinninti, division vice president of pharmacy, Rite Aid.
    • Dr. Rohit Gulati, executive vice president and chief medical officer, Einstein Hospital.
    • John Cacciamani, CEO, Chestnut Hill Hospital.
    • Dr. Jose Torradas, IVEE Health.
    • Jazmine Jones, Oak Street Health.
    • Pastor Rob Harrison, New Journey Christian Center.