Smaller clinics key in addressing COVID-19 vaccine inequities

Even as neighborhood clinics get more vaccines, there's an additional obstacle these clinics face.

Video Transcript

- Yeah that's right. You know, it's great that we have a mega site right here, right behind me, where 6,000 people thereabouts every day can get the vaccine. But what if you don't have a car or access to the computer to get here? Well, it really depends on those small neighborhood clinics who are doing their best to try to make a difference in this fight against the virus.

In the heart of Denver Harbor, two miles east of downtown, the Vecino Clinic was started by Daniel Montez, specifically to serve communities in need.

DANIEL MONTEZ: 80% of our patients fall below 200% of the federal poverty level.

- Montez and his staff say they're thrilled to be able to offer a few dozen doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients this week.

DANIEL MONTEZ: Well we feel very fortunate that, you know, we've been able to provide vaccinations to our patients. Eastern Methodist is a great partner of ours.

- While this clinic serves a predominantly Hispanic clientele, reaching those in working class, low income neighborhoods continue to be a challenge. In the latest data, Harris County Public Health shows its vaccine distribution as being 38% white, 26% Hispanic, 14% Black, and 19% Asian, while the Houston Health Department reports 37% white, 23% each Black and Hispanic, and 13% Asian.

The mass vaccine sites may be convenient to many. And it does reach thousands of people every day. But for some of the most vulnerable, it's clear more neighborhood availability would be helpful. But even in places that want to vaccinate more, they say it can be tough for a small clinic with no extra staffing or funding to increase vaccination doses.

- Any vaccine given would be wonderful. The logistics are difficult for clinics our size. And so, we do our best with the allocation that we were given, and the staff that we have.

- Yeah, you have to think about like, places like this, NRG Park. Well, they have military personnel people, brought in from all over the country to help staff the facility. You have these little neighborhood clinics. They're making do what the nurses and doctors on staff who have to take care of a lot of people's everyday medical needs. So it is a balancing act. It is a challenge. But I can tell you, a lot of people out there trying to make a difference.