ABC NEWS Speaks With Bronx Rising Initiative's Executive Director Tomas Ramos

BRI Quote: Tomas Ramos, founder of a COVID-relief nonprofit in the Bronx, knocked doors at a public housing complex last week to sign elderly residents up for vaccines.

Nearly every single one of the residents he talked to had no knowledge of how they could sign up for the coronavirus vaccine, even though they've been eligible to receive it for almost a month, he said. "Putting up these websites and forums online, it's just not for our low-income communities of color in these spaces," said Ramos, founder of Bronx Rising Initiative, a nonprofit that's going door-to-door in public housing complexes to reach seniors and get them vaccines. "And that's across the U.S," Ramos said.

Older Americans Are Trying To Get Vaccinated.

They're Up Against Harsh Inequities.

There are flaws in octogenarians navigating a complicated online vaccine system

By Cheyenne Haslett January 29, 2021


Younger Americans have been scrambling to secure vaccine appointments online for their grandparents and elderly parents -- combing the internet, navigating dozens of tabs at once, refreshing websites for hours -- often without any luck.

It's an experience that hardly anyone who's done it would wish on any octogenarian, and yet it's the system the nation's oldest, most at-risk residents and their families are required to navigate in order to get a vaccine.


These tech hurdles are exacerbated in the neighborhoods that need the vaccines the most, often low-income communities of color where computer and internet access aren't easily accessible, community organizers on the ground say. They worry the vaccine inequity gap will only widen as the vaccine rolls out to broader swaths of the public.


Tomas Ramos, founder of a COVID-relief nonprofit in the Bronx, knocked doors at a public housing complex last week to sign elderly residents up for vaccines.

Nearly every single one of the residents he talked to had no knowledge of how they could sign up for the coronavirus vaccine, even though they've been eligible to receive it for almost a month, he said. "Putting up these websites and forums online, it's just not for our low-income communities of color in these spaces," said Ramos, founder of Bronx Rising Initiative, a nonprofit that's going door-to-door in public housing complexes to reach seniors and get them vaccines.

"And that's across the U.S," Ramos said.


The problem, too, stems from vaccine hesitancy, largely in Black, Latino and Native American communities -- mistrust in the shot because of decades of mistreatment by government and medical institutions, despite the safety and efficacy of the current available vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. And historically, that mistrust is only compounded by asking people to jump through hoops to get the vaccine.


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