Feds to Open Mass Vaccine Sites for Vulnerable New York Residents

The federal government will cooperate with New York to deliver vaccines to socially vulnerable communities, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

Two mass-vaccination sites in Queens and central Brooklyn will open the week of Feb. 24, each capable of administering 3,000 doses a day, Cuomo said Wednesday. They will be staffed jointly by state and federal officials, and will administer a special allocation of doses reserved for such purposes.

Cuomo was joined virtually by White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, Equity Task Force Chair Marcella Nunez-Smith, the Reverend Al Sharpton, National Urban League President Marc Morial and NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

The Biden administration this week launched a vaccination program through community health centers in every state to get doses to hard-to-reach populations. New York City, the nation’s largest, includes scores of ethnic communities and languages, and almost 18% of its population lives in poverty.

“We are putting equity front and center,” Zients said. “These centers will focus on the hardest-hit, hardest-to-reach populations.”

Two Pandemics

The Covid-19 outbreak has exacerbated racial inequities in U.S. health care. Black people had more exposure to the virus from working low-wage jobs deemed essential, but received less testing and medical care, died at twice the rate of White people and are getting fewer vaccinations.

As of Feb. 4, 63% of New York hospital workers and 74% of other essential personnel who were vaccinated were White; 10% and 5%, respectively, were Black, according to state data. In Louisiana, where Black people make up 32% of the total population, they have received only 13% of the vaccinations, Kaiser Family Foundation data show.

The U.S. lacks data for nearly a quarter of Covid hospitalizations, 49% of total cases, and almost half of those immunized through Jan. 14, according to Biden administration officials. Among those who got at least one dose of the vaccine, 60% were non-Hispanic White, 11.5% were Hispanic or Latino, 5.4% were Black, 6% were Asian. Those recorded as other or multiple races accounted for 14.4%.

Cuomo has said New York was the first state to address social equity in the vaccine process, with efforts to boost accessibility and acceptance. He has directed vaccines to be distributed at Black churches, public-housing projects and community-based organizations and approved an ad campaign targeting communities of color.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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