Last week, the White House announced that it is partnering with the state to open two Community Vaccination Centers in Queens and Brooklyn, with the capability of administering 3,000 vaccines per day.
Like Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the vaccination sites will reserve shots for residents of their respective boroughs. Both centers are set to open the week of February 24.
“These are going to be very large sites, they’re complicated operations,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “But they’re going to address a dramatic need in bringing the vaccine to the people who need the vaccine most.”
The Biden administration will be deploying federal teams to work with state and local jurisdictions at the vaccination centers. According to Cuomo, the sites will be staffed by federal Army personel and state personnel including the National Guard.
York College and Medgar Evers College were identified using a range of criteria according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Social Vulnerability Index. The index takes into consideration a location’s social economic status, household composition, languages, housing type and transportation.
Queens, the city’s second most populous borough with 2.3 million residents, currently has a COVID-19 positivity rate above 9 percent. The borough is home to large Black, Latino and Asian populations. Fifteen percent of the borough also has limited English proficiency.
Brooklyn, the city’s most populous borough with 2.6 million residents, has a COVID positivity rate above 7 percent. According to the Biden administration, 21.1 percent of borough residents live below the poverty line.
Black Brooklynites make up nearly one-third of the population, while the elderly make up 16 percent of the borough. Twelve percent of residents have limited English proficiency.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who leads the Biden-Harris Administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, said they are keeping equity “front and center” at the vaccination sites. They are also partnering with community-based organizations to built trust in these communities.
“The sites are offering extended hours to make vaccinations accessible and convenient for those who work late nights and early morning,” Nunez-Smith said, “and so importantly, making it clear that free, safe vaccines are available regardless of an individual’s ability to pay or their immigration status.”
White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said in the first three weeks of the Biden administration, they have achieved a 28 percent increase in vaccine allocations. He said officials are trying to get vaccines “out the door as fast as the manufacturers can make it.”
“We are helping states administer the supply more efficiently and equitably by providing them with visibility into the supply they will receive across the next three weeks,” he said.
Zients added that at the president’s direction, the federal government will deploy retired doctors and nurses and other personnel from federal agencies to support operations nationwide.
Additionally, the White House has expedited $3 billion in financial support to community vaccination centers across 35 states, tribes and territories. The administration also launched a new effort to directly supply vaccines to pharmacies and clinics.
“We’re meeting communities where they are, in places they know and trust,” Zients added. “This is a central part of our strategy and we look forward to continuing to build on these partnerships with states and localities.”