However, even as mass quantities of vaccine doses have been manufactured and distributed nationwide across the United States, there are still significant demographic disparities within the population in who has received the vaccine, to whom it's available on demand and who is willing or reluctant to receive the vaccine.
With a focus on vaccination awareness, education and access, the Philadelphia Flyers have become the first organization in the National Hockey League to launch a multifaceted COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Created in partnership with Penn Medicine, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium and the City of Philadelphia, the program is called "Take Your Shot."
"The Flyers have a powerful platform to positively impact the community, and we want to encourage our friends and neighbors to get vaccinated, stay safe, and finally end this pandemic. Both the Mayor [Jim Kenney] and the Governor [Tom Wolf] encouraged us to get involved in the fight against COVID-19, and we're answering that call," Philadelphia Flyers & Wells Fargo Center President of Business Operations, Valerie Camillo said.
The primary goal of "Take Your Shot", naturally, is to help get as many doses of COVID-19 vaccines into as many arms as possible in the Delaware Valley. This will be accomplished in conjunction with supporting the campaign's partners and via educational outreach.
On Thursday, April 22, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium is hosting a walk-up vaccination event at the Liacouras Center at Temple University (1776 N. Broad St.) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.
Members of the Flyers organization will be on hand at the Liacouras Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to support the event and provide entertainment to attendees. Flyers staff will deliver water and hand sanitizer to attendees in line, and will distribute "Take Your Shot" stickers and t-shirts. There will be special appearances by Gritty, the Flyers Ice Team and members of the Flyers Alumni Association.
Additionally, Flyers Charities will present a $10,000 check to the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium to help cover vaccination site costs.
"The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium is working every day to ensure that African Americans throughout our region, who disproportionately contract and die from coronavirus at a higher rate than other groups, get their care they need and access to vaccines. We are proud to partner with the Philadelphia Flyers and their 'Take Your Shot' campaign. We are grateful for their support." said Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium.
Demographically, the black community and other communities of color have been especially hard hit by COVID-19. Data from multiple studies concluded that COVID-19 cases and deaths are disproportionately higher in communities with larger black and Latino populations. Additionally, the rates of immunizations in those communities are disproportionately lower.
"We want to do our part to encourage people throughout our region - especially those in underserved communities - to get vaccinated and finally get back to doing the things we love," Camillo said.
Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, the Flyers are also funding a targeted advertising campaign designed specifically to reach Black communities throughout the region who are diagnosed at a disproportionately higher rate than other groups and who are dying from coronavirus at a higher rate than other groups.
On Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25, Delaware County and Penn Medicine will be hosting a large-scale community vaccination event at Radnor High School (130 King of Prussia Rd.) in Wayne, PA. Organizers of the collaborative cline estimate that at least 3,000 people will be vaccinated over the two days.
Gritty and members of Flyers organization will be on hand at Radnor High School on Saturday in similar fashion to the Liacouras Center event two days earlier.
"The enormous challenge of COVID-19 underscores how crucial it is to come together for the health of our communities, and throughout this crisis, we've leaned on our partnerships with great organizations across the region we serve to maximize impact," said Kevin B. Mahoney, chief executive officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
"Penn Medicine has been fortunate to work with a multitude of amazing partners, from key local leaders and community groups to marquee Philadelphia organizations like the Flyers. When everyone comes together, it boosts the success of our daily mission to protect as many members of our communities as we can."
The Philadelphia Flyers hockey team itself will be in game action several times in the days to come, with road games against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday and Friday. This will be followed on Sunday by a home game against the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers players and head coach Alain Vigneault have lent their support for the "Take Your Shot" campaign through their participation in a public service announcement-style video. The video was produced by the organization's new, in-house content shop, On the Fly Productions. The video features Vigneault, Kevin Hayes and Travis Sanheim, along with Andrea Helfrich, radio broadcaster Steve Coates and many others.
"I would say to everyone to go out and get your vaccine. It's about getting back to normalcy. We all want that as soon as possible. I appreciate the campaign the Flyers are doing, and we all need to do our part. If we can all get back, it will be a great thing," Vigneault said after the team's April 21 practice.
Earlier this season, Dr. Stanford and her family attended a Flyers home game, where they were recognized as the "Frontline Family" of the night for the work done by Dr. Stanford and her husband Kamau Stanford (a board member and program coordinator for the non-profit It Takes Philly, Inc., which launched the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium). The family sat in a special seating location and received stick taps from Flyers players at ice level upon their introduction by public address announcer Lou Nolan.
In addition to supporting the two in-person vaccination events this week and presenting the PSA-style, providing public education on vaccination and resources for vaccine planning are central facets of the "Take Your Shot" campaign.
This week, the Flyers launched a dedicated "Take Your Shot" campaign microsite within the PhiladelphiaFlyers.com platform. With one-click access to Comcast NBCUniversal's "Plan Your Vaccine" resource center, the campaign site assists users in navigating the vaccine-planning process, including assistance in identifying their closest vaccination facility.
Take Your Shot Campaign Homepage
The Flyers various digital content platforms, with 3.4 million followers across social media alone, will be used to support "Take Your Shot". Additionally, the collaborate effort campaign will be geared toward promoting vaccine resources in the arena during Flyers games and during TV and radio broadcasts.
By itself, while the "Take Your Shot" campaign promises to have large-scale outreach among Flyers fans, it is but one cog in the larger wheel of COVID-19 vaccine education, distribution and administration throughout the region.
"The last year has been so difficult for all of us, but there is one thing that's helped us get to this point: working together. We have so many partners in this fight against the pandemic, but we need everyone to lend a hand. Today we're proud to partner with the Philadelphia Flyers. We couldn't be more excited to support the Philadelphia Flyers and their 'Take Your Shot' campaign," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.