Richmond councilmembers want vaccination efforts brought to the southside

Richmond leaders frustrated over vaccine rollout

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - There are growing concerns over whether the state is doing all it can to get the vaccine to underserved communities.

While nursing home residents, teachers and first responders are currently being vaccinated, some Richmond leaders believe there are other populations that can’t afford to wait.

Three Richmond council members say it’s about access and opportunity. While vaccination events are happening in Central Virginia, they say they’re not happening where some people really need them.

“You leave us out. You leave the poorest of the poor out here on the southside,” Councilwoman Reva Trammel said at a news conference. “When you’re getting phone calls every single day, that it’s not fair to them to not have a place to go so they can get the shot that they need.”

She’s not the only one sounding the alarm.

“As we vaccinate seniors on one side of the river - on the north side - Arthur Ashe Center and Richmond International Raceway, they need to understand, the governor needs to understand, state leaders need to understand, that river is a great dividing line and it creates the whole notion of two Richmonds,” Councilman Mike Jones said.

They say at the height of the pandemic, there was a huge effort to get the word out to Black and Brown communities - populations that experts said were most vulnerable. Now that there’s a vaccine, leaders want the shots brought to those communities.

“The fact that we don’t have a site on the southside is an egregious offense. It’s an egregious offense,” Jones added.

Some residents who could get there had no luck.

“Some of my citizens went over there three and a half hours last week and still didn’t get the shot. They had to leave. That’s not fair,” Trammell said.

They say there’s a bigger issue at play.

“We will not be able to open up Richmond Public Schools, where the majority of the families that we’re speaking of children go to school if we don’t get the vaccine in their home,” Councilwoman Ellen Robertson said.

“When we talk about who has not been able to shelter in place, they are our front line workers. When you go to Food Lion, Walmart, Kroger and you see these Black and Brown women and men serving and working, even with individuals not wearing masks coming in to go shopping, the people who have allowed us to shelter in place are in need of the vaccine are well,” Jones continued.

He is asking state leaders to break down the demographics of people who are actually getting vaccinated as they do with those who are dying from the virus.

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