More Whites have received COVID-19 vaccines in NYC as compared to Blacks and Latinos - NYDH

More Whites have received COVID-19 vaccines in NYC as compared to Blacks and Latinos - NYDH

Moses Kuwema 

 

Data from the New York City Department of Health released Sunday shows that 48 percent of the COVID-19 vaccinations were administered to white residents as compared to only 15 percent to the Latinos and 11 percent to blacks.

According to the citywide data from 2019 of the general population in New York City, whites account for 32 percent of the population, Latinos-29 percent, Blacks-24 percent, and the Asian community 14 percent. 

And following the revelations of these disparities in the numbers of African-American and Latinos receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Council member Fernando Cabrera called for more vaccine distribution in communities of color.  

So, we're seeing the Black and Latino communities getting, you know, literally a percentage that's half of what it should be compared to their percentage of the city population. Asian community, almost equivalent to their share of city population, white community about 50 percent higher than population share. I mean, that's just profound disparity," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday during a briefing.

Mayor de Blasio attributed the disparities to a number of factors among them, what he termed was a profound problem of distrust and hesitancy, particularly in communities of color. 

He said there was also a problem of privilege where folks who have been privileged have been able to access the vaccine in some ways with greater ease. 

"We've got to have a more systematic approach to ensuring that we focus on the places where the danger is greatest and that's those 33 communities. This is not easy stuff because we need to convince people to want to be comfortable with the vaccine," Mayor de Blasio said. "So, the honest truth is, you know, in the communities that are getting higher levels of vaccination, there's more comfort with the vaccine, but also that's the exact opposite of the danger reality because everyone's worried every senior citizen is afraid. I want every senior citizen vaccinated, but we know factually the seniors in greatest danger are in those 33 neighborhoods that we're not seeing as high a vaccination rate in. So, it's a tricky combination, but we have to go – we have to keep talking about it openly and go at it, you know, headfirst, right at it, and get something done differently." 

And Cabrera said, “It’s unthinkable that almost 50% of New Yorkers who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine are white when whites are roughly one-third of the city’s population, while Blacks and Latinos, who together are more than half the population, are only 26% of vaccine recipients."  “We need a different strategy to end this racial disparity.  I’m calling for more vaccine sites in black and brown communities immediately.   Our Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can be a major force in the vaccine distribution process.  I recently visited the new vaccine unit at Morris Heights Health Center (MHHC).  Large numbers of people were there to get vaccinated on the first day, with more than 2,000 people already on the waiting list for appointments. The response has been so positive that MHHC has extended its hours to administer the shots.  This proves there’s an easy solution to getting the vaccine to more black and brown communities, where more people are essential workers and more live with underlying conditions that put them at greater risk for contracting COVID-19.  People know and trust the doctors, nurses and staff at neighborhood health centers and don’t have to travel long distances to get vaccinated at odd hours.  Neighborhood health centers must play a bigger role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Morris Heights Health Center began administering the COVID-19 vaccine on January 5th, starting with its staff, before the vaccination unit opened.  To date, MHHC has administered 1,508 vaccines to neighborhood residents.

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity on Monday announced the next phase of its Vaccine for All effort and released demographic information of vaccine recipients. With an expanded list of 33 neighborhoods identified by the Taskforce, the City will use this data to broaden its outreach and education to address vaccine hesitancy, prioritize appointments, add new vaccine sites, and improve the scheduling website to ensure the pace of vaccination is consistent throughout the city.

"We launched our vaccine effort with a clear commitment to provide a vaccine for all New Yorkers," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now we are going even further to ensure the vaccine reaches everyone, equally, with a focus on the neighborhoods we know have borne the brunt of COVID-19.”

“Ensuring equity among our communities is central to our city’s recovery efforts. We want all of our communities to trust the vaccine’s efficacy and have access to it,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “As distribution expands, we will continue gathering more data and processing what we have learned over the past year so that our hardest hit neighborhoods are fully supported and included in the plan.”

Equitable distribution of the vaccine has been the driving force of the City’s Vaccine for All effort. The majority of City vaccination sites are already located in the 33 Taskforce neighborhoods, as well as other, soon-to-open hubs, like Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.  The City has also mounted an extensive outreach campaign, holding informational and educational events for residents, providers, partners, and elected officials in Task Force neighborhoods and other areas across the city. With the assistance of trusted community partners, the City has distributed tens of thousands of pieces of literature to spread the word of a safe and effective vaccine to residents in priority neighborhoods and held training events so community partners can support navigation of vaccination services. The City will also continue to hold regular community conversations to address vaccine hesitancy and elevate community feedback on vaccination rollout and access.

To deepen this work, City will now prioritize appointments for residents at vaccine sites in the Taskforce neighborhoods, setting aside specific hours and slots. For eligible essential workers in the Taskforce neighborhoods, the City will create 'family plans' - allowing the workers to schedule appointments for eligible family members on-site. To improve accessibility, the City’s appointment scheduling site will now be available in a total of 11 languages, including English, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese.

Building on the initial list of 27 neighborhoods, the Taskforce has broadened its criteria and expanded to a total of 33 neighborhoods, now including Williamsbridge and Baychester, Midwood, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, Kew Gardens and Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and South Ozone, and Queens Village. These neighborhoods were added based on a range of factors including high COVID-19 mortality and case rates, high prevalence of chronic illness, presence of overcrowded housing, the number of individuals experiencing poverty, and other preexisting health disparities.

To address the key drivers of vaccine hesitancy, the NYC Vaccine for All campaign will build on its previous work and launch a "Vaccine Facts” campaign (or “Vax Facts”) in February to address the key drivers of vaccine hesitancy across broadcast, digital, and print platforms, including local and ethnic media. The City will also partner with local leaders for tailored community engagement and host days of action, deploying census-style outreach campaign to build trust and distribution vaccine FAQs in the 33 neighborhoods.

“Equitable vaccine distribution, especially to neighborhoods most impacted by COVID and long histories of racism, must be front and center if we are to achieve a full and fair recovery for our City, said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services and Task Force Co-Chair Melanie Hartzog. “Our Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity is making sure our efforts are focused on reaching these communities most in need, addressing hesitancy, building trust, and expanding access so all New Yorkers feel safe and informed getting their shots — which will make our whole city safer.” 

 “Data is the lifeblood of our response and identifying where vaccine uptake is lower will help us adapt to ensure an equitable distribution,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “We need all New Yorkers to know that this vaccine is safe and effective, and we are working hard every day to ensure we have the supply to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible.”

“Transparency promotes trust and we have a lot of work to do to build confidence with the city’s communities,” said First Deputy Health Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easterling. “This public health emergency has highlighted the systemic racism that’s entrenched in our nation’s policies and practices, and we are determined to make sure that this does not happen in the campaign to vaccinate New Yorkers.”