Today, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released Fair Shot NYC, a vaccine equity plan to ensure that New Yorkers across backgrounds, income-levels, occupations and age groups have equitable access to vaccines as the City ramps up distribution. Comptroller Stringer’s Fair Shot NYC plan includes recommendations for more transparency and outreach to increase access for communities of color, lower-income neighborhoods, and immigrant New Yorkers.
Comptroller Stringer called on the City to release demographic data in real time broken down by age, race, profession and zip code, mandate businesses provide paid time off for employees who need to get vaccinated, and drastically scale up outreach and education through public advertising campaigns and local community leaders and organizations.
“Communities of color and lower-income New Yorkers bore the brunt of the pandemic, and now these same communities face systemic barriers to accessing life-saving vaccines,” said Comptroller Stringer. “We cannot continue to sideline our most vulnerable New Yorkers during the most important vaccine rollout of our lifetime. I am proposing a Vaccine Equity Agenda to center the communities who need it most and ensure our distribution and communication are meeting New Yorkers where they are – regardless of the color of your skin, language you speak, zip code you live in, or income you earn. That means not only making more data and information available to identify areas for improvement, but ramping up outreach efforts to proactively address and mitigate issues that are uncovered. We need to move quickly to ensure a fast and equitable vaccine rollout – our recovery from this pandemic depends on it.”
Comptroller Stringer’s Fair Shot NYC plan calls on the City to:
- Release all demographic data in real time on who has received vaccination shots to date, with breakdowns by age, race, profession and zip code; allow for people to track in real time the availability of doses in their neighborhoods; ensure that there is broad racial equity in the provision of the vaccine and that New Yorkers of all backgrounds and incomes are able to receive the vaccine.
- Mandate that all businesses provide paid time off for all employees who need to get a vaccination; give employees both days off for the deployment and to contend with any side effects or fatigue that might follow in the days after the shot.
- Reassign the majority of contact tracers to the critical task of promoting vaccine access in all communities, including making appointments, with emphasis on the elderly and other high-risk groups. Given that significant community spread is unlikely to slow down until a significant proportion of the population is vaccinated, the city must prioritize vaccinating high-risk groups by getting shots in arms.
- Massively ramp up outreach and public education and direct to consumer marketing through targeted public advertising campaigns combined with a new corps of “trusted messengers”, including faith leaders, workplace leaders, and other community leaders, as well as widely known public figures and influencers. The City should look for ways to partner with ethnic and community media to publicize key information in multiple languages. Given the nation’s long history of systemic racism and discrimination in public health, it is essential that the City work with and within impacted communities to combat mistrust, misinformation and avoid exacerbating health inequities.
- Build strategic partnerships with employers of high-risk workers who are eligible for the vaccine, like Home Health Care agencies and supermarket chains, so they can share official information about how and where to get vaccinated with their workforces.
- Plan for the anticipated arrival of new vaccines, including single-dose vaccines with less onerous storage requirements; explore the possibility of distributing vaccines within homes, apartment buildings, or other settings.
- Establish a supply chain management task force, led by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Mayor’s Office of Operations, that will assign supply chain management workers to track and redistribute vaccine supplies in real time away from sites that are struggling with vaccine delivery, to higher performing sites, as well as provide capacity building and technical assistance to lower performing sites to increase their vaccination performance.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “The city’s vaccine distribution system is broken and to have equity, we must first have accountability. The administration can’t afford to leave our most vulnerable behind when it comes to the vaccine. That includes communities of color in Inwood, senior citizens in Roosevelt Island, foster care and rehabilitation employees and residents in group homes, and eligible New Yorkers who have poor internet access or technological literacy.”
Council Member Bill Perkins said, “I want to thank my colleagues in government and the NY Vaccine Equity coalition for making Vaccination a priority. However, without providing up-to-date data as per who is being vaccinated and where, how can we mobilize our community and ensure that the vulnerable and underserved communities are not left behind. As I am proud of saying, your health is your wealth. Let us all be richer as we conquer this deadly pandemic.”
Comptroller Stringer sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio calling on the City to streamline and expedite vaccination and to utilize every available dose by creating “standby’’ lists of high-risk individuals, developing a central database of information to help hospitals and health care providers track demand and usage, and doubling down on outreach to communities to disseminate crucial information on eligibility and vaccination sites.