Lots of NYC Vaccines Go to Younger, White Out-of-Towners

More than a quarter of those getting the Covid-19 vaccine in New York City are nonresidents, and they tend to be younger and are more likely to be White than those living in the city. 

About 59% of the out-of-town recipients are White, according to data released Friday by the city’s health department. By comparison, 48% of the New Yorkers who received vaccines are White, the data show. Roughly half of the vaccinated nonresidents are younger than 65, compared with 44% of the New Yorkers getting the shots. New York City has been prioritizing health-care workers, the elderly and essential workers for immunization.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said late last month that initial data from New York City show “profound” racial disparities in who had received the vaccine. White residents made up almost half of the people who had gotten at least one dose, despite consisting of only a third of the population. Latinos, at 29% of the population, accounted for 15% of those vaccinated. The lowest ratio was among Black residents, who make up almost a quarter of the city’s population, but accounted for just 11% of those vaccinated.

Many of the nonresidents getting vaccinated are health-care workers, first responders and others who do essential work in New York City, and the city does want them immunized. What the city wants to guard against, de Blasio said, is younger people and nonessential workers taking advantage of New York City’s vaccine supply because of backlogs and shortages where they live. 

“I​​​​​f someone is from outside the five boroughs, is not a health-care worker or a first responder or a teacher or an essential worker in New York City, they should not be getting a shot in New York City,” de Blasio said in a Jan. 12 briefing. “They should be getting a shot at their local vaccination centers.”

Critics say de Blasio's administration still should do more to equalize access to the vaccine.

“Black, Latino, and Asian New Yorkers –- who have kept this city running over the past 11 months and have been the greatest number of deaths and borne the economic brunt of this crisis -– do not have access to register, let alone receive the vaccine, while wealthy out-of-towners have flocked into our city, using up our limited vaccine supply,” said Maya Wiley, a candidate for New York mayor who served as chief legal adviser to de Blasio.

On Friday, the city opened Yankee Stadium for vaccine appointments exclusively for people in the Bronx, one of the city's hardest-hit and most diverse neighborhoods. "We want to make sure this is only for the people of the Bronx," de Blasio said during a Friday radio interview. "It's part of a way to create equity."

Criticism has been mounting both in the city and nationwide over the fairness of vaccine distribution. Although the city’s preliminary data are incomplete, they tend to show Black and Hispanic residents trail White people in getting inoculated. In New York City, race and ethnicity are unknown for 39% of vaccine recipients. The U.S. also lacks this demographic information for half of the doses administered to date, according to data released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Feb. 1, 29,000 doses had been given to people who live in New Jersey and Connecticut, de Blasio said. He didn’t say how many shots had gone to New York state residents who live outside the city. In the Friday radio interview, de Blasio said the city planned to start disclosing zip code information for vaccine recipients to provide transparency on residency status. 

More Americans had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine than tested positive for the virus as of Feb. 1, according to data compiled by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. The tracker also is capturing data from states and major cities on race, gender and age, where available. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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