New York City creating COVID-19 ‘vaccine command center’ to guide distribution

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Trelleborg
Nursing home residents and staff, and a large number of high-risk health care workers, will be the first in New York to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Dec. 4, 2020.
TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson via REUTERS

New York City officials plan on opening a “Vaccine Command Center” across the street from City Hall at 253 Broadway on Monday that will oversee the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as help answer questions on its safety, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at his Friday press conference.

The “command center” will work with multiple city agencies including NYCHA and the office of Emergency Management and Community Affairs in one room to solve distribution issues in real-time, according to Deputy Mayor Melanie Hertzog. 

For example, if a vaccine shipment fails to arrive at a particular community site the command center would work directly with the provider to track down additional vaccines or direct patients to a new location where doses are available. 

Hertzog added that command center will work with partners on the ground to identify certain communities where trust in the vaccine might be low. Officials emphasized that a major priority for the command center is to ensure that the vaccine is distributed according to state protocol while prioritizing residents in the city’s 27 neighborhood’s most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We know that many New Yorkers have been impacted by the history of racism and harm in medicine and research in government,” said DOH Chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easteringling, who joined the mayor during a morning press conference on Friday morning. “So we don’t expect them to come to us, so instead we will go to them.” 

The city has partnered with 200 community-based organizations, houses of worship and community centers to help earn the trust of Black, Latino and Asian communities that have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic.

In the spring, an analysis from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that Black and Hispanic New Yorkers were dying at twice the rate of white or Asian New Yorkers. 

In addition, the command center will report the number of people getting vaccinated with breakdowns on boroughs, demographic, age and other indicators.