York College in Queens and Medger Evers College in Brooklyn will each house two new state vaccination hubs providing shots to up to 3,000 New Yorkers per day, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Opening Feb. 24, Cuomo is forming alliances with African American leaders such as Rev. Al Sharpton to level out disparities in the vaccination rollout and will be staffed by personnel from the federal government with upstate sites of similar caliber to follow.
Brooklyn and Queens residents will be allowed to be administered with vaccine, according to Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa.
Sharpton lauded the announcement as a big step forward toward closing the vaccine gap in communities of color.
“Access is one thing but as you know, we also have a big challenge with skepticism in our communities about vaccine. Many in the African American community or don’t trust vaccines because the past abuses like the Tuskegee experiment, let’s put it out front, like the disgrace to treatment of Henrietta Lacks Act, the forced sterilization of women in Puerto Rico and in the south,” Sharpton said. “But this vaccine is different. And we’ve had to get out there and say that we are working around the clock to make people showing our community that the vaccine is safe and effective that everyone should take it when it’s their turn, because that’s how we get everyone back to work and see our families and friends safe and together.”
Among those teaming up with the state in offsetting the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 was NAACP President Derrick Johnson who acknowledged this distrust in the black community as well during the governor’s press conference and said the organization was working not convince people to accept the vaccine, but simply to hear their options.
Among those helping the effort was Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League.
“When the federal government, for example, fails to perform [people] literally die. [COVID-19] showed failed leadership in government, and it showed structural racism and discrimination that existed in America that was not readily apparent unless you wanted to see it,” Cuomo said. “There was no denying the existence of COVID-19, black people died at twice the rate of white people. That is a fact. It is a fact that should make us uncomfortable… COVID killed Hispanic people at one and a half times the rate of white people.”
According to Cuomo, the post-holiday surge much anticipated throughout November and mid-January continue to taper off while vaccine supplies are up 5% this week from last which has been trending up as the Biden administration continues to increase allocations to the state.
Cuomo expects the 5% vaccine increase to continue for the next three weeks.