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NYS data shows racial gap in COVID-19 vaccine

covid_first_vaccine.jpg
Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo
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The first COVID-19 vaccine is administered in NY in December 2020.

Black hospital workers have been less likely than those of other races to take the COVID-19 vaccine when offered, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday, which he expects to be reflected in statewide demographic data that’s set to be released this week.

Cuomo released a breakdown by race on Sunday of how the vaccine has been administered to hospital workers — the first group eligible for the inoculation.

According to the data, 17% of hospital workers eligible for the vaccine are Black. But only 10% of hospital workers who’ve actually received the vaccine are Black, Cuomo said. He blamed the disparity on a lack of trust in the vaccine among communities of color.

“It’s going to be the hesitancy issue, and getting validators who have credibility,” Cuomo said.

So, Cuomo said, the state will be launching a new advertising campaign targeted at communities of color with the intention of boosting vaccine recipients among those populations. The state will also be enlisting the help of community leaders to build trust in the injection.

New York hasn’t released statewide demographic data on who’s received the vaccine, so reporters and the public haven’t had access to that information as of yet.

New York City, meanwhile, released a detailed demographic breakdown of who’s received the vaccine in the five boroughs Sunday. Of the total number of people vaccinated in New York City, 40% did not provide demographic data, according to the city.

But of those who did provide demographic data, the statistics show the vaccine has predominantly been received in the five boroughs by white people.

According to the data, 48% of New York City residents vaccinated in the city who provided demographic data were white. Asian and Latino populations each made up 15% of those vaccinated, and only 11% were Black, according to the data.

The disparity was larger for people who don’t live in New York City, but were vaccinated in the city. Of those, 59% were white, while only 7% were black. Latino and Asian people represented 10% and 11% of non-city residents vaccinated within the city, respectfully.

Cuomo said he hadn’t had the chance to see the city’s numbers, which were released a few minutes before he spoke to the press Sunday, but that the state would be releasing its own demographic breakdown this week.

Despite the disparity, Cuomo said he believed distrust among Black and Brown communities was to blame for the gap, rather than access. Reporting in recent days has shown that white people from outside the city have received the vaccine at sites within communities of color.

“The access, we’ve been working on, and the access I feel good about. There’s always more to do,” Cuomo said.

As of Sunday, 1.9 million doses of the vaccine had been distributed, Cuomo said. Of those, 1.5 million were first doses.

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