One local physician asks for suspension of 287g program.
Frederick, Md (KM) Vaccines against COVID-19 have made it seem possible that the end of the pandemic is near. But minority communities have suffered the most from the coronavirus, according to Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County’s Health Officer. “And we have–now that vaccine is available–have seen that the vaccination rates are lower for Blacks and Hispanics despite the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had in the communities,” she said.
The County Health Department says a disproportionate number of Black residents have died from COVID-19. In Frederick, Hispanics make up 10.5% of the proportion, but nearly 14% of all confirmed cases of the virus.
Dr. Brookmyer, who spoke during the County Executive’s public information briefing on Thursday, said there needs to be more outreach to these communities so they too can be protected from the coronavirus. “Listening to what persons who are disproportionally impacted have to say and recommend for what is the best way,” she says.
That includes talking working with family members, faith leaders and others to learn the best way to get these vaccines to their communities.
Part of the problem with reaching minorities communities is there are those who are distrustful of the medical profession and vaccinations. “It’s really important that we acknowledged the historical events that have led to medical mistrust, and to also address the current challenges that structural racism continues to play in our communities,” says Dr. Brookmyer.
“We are also launching the vaccine ambassador program which is where we’re looking for individuals who are in each of the eligibility categories for vaccination who are wiling to be spokespersons and talk about their experiences with other individuals, their friends, family, co-workers, parishioners,” she said.
Also during the public information briefing, Frederick physician Dr. Julio Menocal said it isn’t just lack of education or transportation, or distrust of the medical profession and vaccines, which keeps a number of Hispanics from getting COVID-19 shots. It’s also the 287g program. “Is there any way that for 12 week we can pause 287g so we can vaccinate our people,” he asked. “I’ll get on my knees and beg that at the next Council meeting that a motion is brought up to put 287g on hold for 12 weeks to get our people vaccinated.”
County Executive Jan Gardner said the Council has no jurisdiction over program, which is run by the Sheriff’s Office. Dr. Menocal would have to make that request to the Sheriff.
287g is a federal program run by the US Department of Homeland Security. The Sheriff’s Office is a participant. . It allows the staff at the Detention Center to check on the immigration status of those arrested in Frederick County. If these individuals are here illegally, they could be deported. It has been controversial since it began in Frederick County a few years ago.
“These are invisible people that still get infected by COVID and still spread COVD, and we need to vaccinate them. I’ll do it for free. Heck, I’ll pay ’em to get ’em vaccinated. But please suspend 287g for 12 weeks; just 12 weeks,” he asked.
By Kevin McManus