Who's been trying to cash in on COVID vaccinations? (And how did racism help them out?)

With COVID vaccinations ramping up, it's time to check in: Who's been trying to make a buck? And who's been doing their best to serve the folks who need help the most? In Philadelphia, the good, the bad, and the ugly have all been on vivid display.


The Bad comes with a giant serving of chutzpah: For a while, the city put its mass-vaccination program in the hands of a 22 year-old with no experience in health care, but with a healthy interest in making money. It did NOT go well. (You may have seen that headline before. We get the deep dive from public-radio reporter Nina Feldman, who uncovered the caper.)


The Ugly is systemic racism: Or is it just a coincidence that the city put its trust in a white 22 year-old... while ignoring an effective group of licensed, experienced, Black health-care professionals who were volunteering their time? That would be the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, led by Dr. Ala Stanford.


The Good is the work that Dr. Stanford and the Consortium have been doing, which throws the Bad and the Ugly into stark relief. Since last spring, they've been working tirelessly and creatively to address disparities in the care that Black Philadelphians receive for COVID-19.


They're not the only folks working to address those disparities—including a lack of good vaccine information from trusted sources. Here's a great example from a project called The Conversation: Between Us and About Us, hosted by comedian W. Kamau Bell:


You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp6S4C6zG_M


We talked with one of the project's leaders, Dr. Rhea Boyd, author of a recent New York Times essay, Black People Need Better Vaccine Access, Not Better Vaccine Attitudes. (Disclosure: The project is backed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, who also are behind our co-producers at Kaiser Health News.)


Here's a transcript for this episode.


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