ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR) — COVID-19 has highlighted the disparities in healthcare that already existed in communities of color. As part of New York’s response, Gov. Cuomo announced Wednesday that a partnership with the federal government will allow the state to build more vaccination sites targeting these communities.

COVID-19 killed Black people at a rate two times higher and Hispanics 1.5 times higher than white people.

Two sites have been designated so far for socially vulnerable communities: One at York College in Jamaica Queens and the other at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Both sites can administer up to 3,000 doses of the vaccine a day and will be given specific vaccine allocation from the federal government for this cause.

The state says it is working to identify additional locations in Upstate New York.

Black-majority zip codes are 67% more likely to face shortages of primary care doctors

The governor was joined by several special guests during his briefing, all of whom are working within their organizations and with the state to ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccine.

  • Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator
  • Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, White House COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair
  • Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network Founder
  • Marc Morial, National Urban League President
  • Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO

In addition to the federally-funded sites, New York has held several community-based pop-up vaccination sites and plans several more in the future.

“The vaccine is the weapon that will win the war against COVID, however, to be truly effective, we must ensure it is distributed fairly and equitably,” Governor Cuomo said. “The sad truth is that not only has COVID devastated communities of color on a much larger scale than white ones, but there continues to be skepticism towards the vaccine itself, especially in the Black community. That’s why this effort continues to be so critical to our success — by setting up these sites and partnering directly with the leaders and organizations who are trusted voices in these communities, we can simultaneously ensure access to the vaccine, while instilling confidence in it as well.”

Since January 15, the community-based pop-up sites have enabled roughly 30,000 New Yorkers to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. Future pop-up locations will continue to be established at public housing complexes, local churches, and cultural centers state-wide through the Vaccine Equity Task Force.

Appointments for these clinics are scheduled directly with the host site or partner provider who work with community organizations and community leaders to identify New Yorkers from that specific community who are eligible to obtain a vaccination.