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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / The Howard School at 2500 Market St. is shown on Oct. 8, 2020.

Note: This story was updated at noon on April 24 to correct the organizational affiliation of LaDarius Price.

A ZIP code hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, with some of Chattanooga's most at-risk neighborhoods, is now home to the lowest percentage of vaccinated residents in Hamilton County, according to data from Get Vaccinated Chattanooga, a newly-formed vaccine education campaign.

Although 36.7% of Hamilton County residents overall have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, ZIP code-level vaccine data from the Tennessee Department of Health that was obtained and analyzed by the Get Vaccinated Chattanooga coalition shows large disparities in vaccination rates throughout the county.

Jesse Houser, volunteer data analyst for Get Vaccinated Chattanooga, said that 6.9% of residents from the 37407 ZIP code — which contains the Clifton Hills and East Lake neighborhoods — have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

That's well below the county's most-vaccinated ZIP code, 37408, where 65.6% of residents living along Chattanooga's Southside Historic District and South Broad are at least partially vaccinated.

Other ZIP codes with the lowest vaccination rates in Hamilton County include nearby Alton Park (37410), East Chattanooga (37406) and Fort Wood/UTC (37403). Sparsely populated 37338 in the Northwest corner of Hamilton County also has a low vaccination rate.

The other ZIP codes with the highest percentage of population at least partially vaccinated are Lupton City (37351), Lookout Mountain (37350), Signal Mountain (37377) and North Chattanooga (37405), according to Houser.

He said the data is helping inform the group as to where vaccine education and events are needed most.

On Saturday, Get Vaccinated Chattanooga — which is funded by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation — is partnering with CHI Memorial to host a vaccine drive from 9 a.m.to 2 p.m. at The Howard School, 2500 Market St.

CHI Memorial's medical staff will administer the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to anyone 18 and older. Registration is recommended and available online or by calling 423-800-8101. Walk-ups will also be accommodated.

LaDarius Price, a member of the Get Vaccinated Chattanooga leadership team, said the event is part of the community effort to bring COVID-19 vaccines to Chattanooga's underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / UTC junior Madison Matthews is given the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by Melissa Ebel, an employee of the school's health department, at the university's routine testing and vaccination center on Friday, April 23, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"We are committed to hosting drives in centralized locations that are accessible by personal vehicle, public transit, paratransit and pedestrians. By bringing vaccination drives to the community, we are removing barriers to the vaccine ensuring health equity for Chattanooga's most vulnerable residents," Price said via news release.

The 37407 area is more racially diverse than the rest of the county, with nearly 40% of residents being Black or African American and more than 25% Hispanic, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Historically, vaccination rates among these racial and ethnic groups have been lower than others due to systematic racism and longstanding distrust in the health care system.

Black and Latino people are also more likely to become infected and hospitalized due to COVID-19 and experience higher rates of many of the chronic diseases known to increase the chances of dying from the coronavirus.

The 37407 ZIP code area has a poverty rate nearly four times higher than the county as a whole, with approximately 45% of the population living below the federal poverty line. Within the ZIP code, 61% of residents have attained a high school diploma or higher and 4.6% have received bachelor's degrees or higher.

Higher COVID-19 vaccination rates are often associated with higher income levels and educational attainment.

By comparison, 20.4% of the population in the most vaccinated ZIP code is below the poverty line with 90.4% at least graduating from high school and 55.2% attaining at least a bachelor's degree.

The median age of the most-vaccinated ZIP code — 33.9 years old — is higher than in 37407, which has a median age of 27.8 years old. Older residents were the first members of the general public to gain access to COVID-19 vaccinations in Tennessee after health care workers and first responders.

Other factors contributing to 37408's high vaccination rate is the availability of vaccination events. For example, a vaccine "strike team" was sent to help vaccinate residents of Mary Walker Towers — which is in the 37408 ZIP code — on April 9, and Houser said vaccination rates in the area increased dramatically after a March 13 vaccination event at Brainerd High School.

The most vaccinated ZIP code also has a smaller population — about 1,722 residents — compared to the least-vaccinated one, which has approximately 11,039 residents.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com or follow her on Twitter @ecfite.

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