NEW ORLEANS — Shakeitha Young was home on a rainy Saturday morning, cleaning up bits of toast strewn by her 1-year-old, Jalayah, when the knock came.
A nurse in teal scrubs, rain boots and a yellow poncho was on her porch, offering Young an on-the-spot COVID-19 vaccine. Young eagerly agreed, swinging open the door with Jalayah propped on her hip in a unicorn shirt and diaper. Despite her job as a hospital technician, sanitizing medical equipment like IV pumps, the 32-year-old single mom of three said she hadn’t yet been offered a shot.
In her quaint, sparsely furnished townhouse tucked in a public housing complex in the city’s Upper 9th Ward, nurse Sophia Thomas injected Young with her first dose of Moderna vaccine.
Joined by housing authority workers, Thomas went up and down Oliver White Avenue offering in-home vaccines to residents of the majority-Black Desire area, a historically underserved, low-lying neighborhood where 64% of people live in poverty, according to the U.S. census.
The area is notorious as the former home of one of the nation’s largest public housing complexes, where people endured grim, unsanitary living conditions for decades. The complex was demolished under federal mandates in the late 1990s and new residences were…