NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — In the heart of the historically Black Church Street business district of Norfolk, since February, Dr. Anna Peoples has administered thousands of life-saving coronavirus vaccinations.
Five years ago, the Norfolk native opened Peoples Pharmacy, decorated with African art, in hopes of serving the medically underserved community of Huntersville.
She operates what she says is the only Black-owned pharmacy in the Seven Cities.
If you think minorities in Huntersville were first in line to get shots during her rollout, think again.
“We got most of our appointments, our initial appointments, from people who live in Suffolk and Virginia Beach. They made the appointments [via the internet] and initially flooded the appointment schedule that we had. We really didn’t get anyone from Norfolk; not anyone from this community,” said Peoples.
From the beginning, the internet and age-based rollout created vaccination disparities in the African American community that is at high risk of COVID-19 death or serious illness.
Numbers from the Virginia Department of Health tell the story. As of May 28, 2021, 1.4 million white residents, or more than 60%, have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. 344,000 Black residents have received at least one dose, but that’s only 14.4% of the Black population.
Peoples says for African Americans, the lifted restrictions and the holiday could spell more disaster.
“It concerns me greatly because what I am finding out, the age group in their twenties through late 30s, they are not going through the doors. And when I ask them about it, they feel a distrust about the information they are receiving about the vaccine was well as the virus,” added Peoples.
Vaccinated Hunterville resident Erik Watford says Black lives did not matter when Gov. Ralph Northam lifted most restrictions at midnight Friday, May 28.
“We need to look past the bottom line and the state coffers. We have a lot of sick people who need to be vaccinated; all [lifting restrictions is] going to do is spread the infection,” said Watford.
“This community is a community of about 22,000 folks; we have barely touched those people. We have a lot of work to do,” said Peoples.
The work continues Saturday morning at Faith Deliverance Christian Center at 1010 26th Street in Norfolk.
First and second dose Moderna shots will be offered along with the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The shots are free and no appointment is needed. For additional information, contact Peoples Pharmacy at 757-227-4677 or check the website: peoplespharmacyrx.com.