UPMC Launches Hill District COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic with Community Partners

By: Sierra Lomax

It’s been a little over a year since vaccinations for COVID-19 were approved, and about 65% of Allegheny County residents are fully vaccinated. But, in many underserved areas like the Hill District, the vaccine isn’t easily accessible.

To improve access and establish a trusted resource for the community, UPMC— along with community partners at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) and the Neighborhood Resilience Project (NRP)— opened a vaccine clinic in the Hill District to administer COVID-19 vaccines and answer any looming questions that may be the cause of hesitation among residents.

“We know that there is still a disparity in our underserved communities on vaccine access, and we want to take a part in helping eliminate that disparity,” said Dr. Tracey Conti, chair of family medicine at UPMC. “This clinic will serve as a resource for the Hill District community, to not only offer vaccinations, but to offer answers to the questions that are causing vaccine hesitancy among community members. We are passionate about educating the public about the vaccines so that everyone can make the best-informed decision for themselves.”

“The URA is proud to partner with UPMC on the Hill District vaccine clinic,” said URA deputy executive director, Diamonte Walker. “With Omicron numbers still skyrocketing, now more than ever it’s critical that we work together to ensure easy, equitable access to the vaccine, especially in communities like the Hill District.”

Wearing masks and social distancing can help the reduce spread of COVID-19, but vaccination is an essential tool for protection against severe COVID-19 illness.

“Without question, unvaccinated individuals of any age or health status are in greater danger from COVID-19,” said infectious disease pharmacist Rachel Marini, Pharm. D., manager of the UPMC Southside COVID-19 vaccine clinic and Hill District clinic. “We know that individuals with complete vaccination – including a booster dose— are safer from COVID-19 death and serious illness.  Our hope is to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all of the communities we serve.”

Since its soft opening in late December, over 100 people have received their vaccine at the Hill District clinic. Eventually, the clinic will move into the UPMC Matilda Theiss Center, slated to open later in 2022, where Hill District residents will be able to access both COVID-19 vaccines and primary care services.

“We are grateful for UPMC’s continued commitment to our community during the pandemic. We look forward to furthering efforts to vaccinate many people in partnership with one another to save as many lives as possible,” said Reverend Paul Abernathy, chief executive officer at the Neighborhood Resilience Project.

The clinic is accepting walk-ins, and residents can also schedule an appointment to receive their vaccine by calling 844-876-2822 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. seven days a week, or online at Vaccine.UPMC.com.