$125 million spent on NYC COVID ad campaign

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 7 On Your Side Investigates has been tracking vaccination rates in New York City neighborhoods and is finding an uptick in people getting shots in some of the hardest hit areas.

Meanwhile, the city is spending millions of dollars on ads to target communities who have not been vaccinated.

There are neighborhoods where doctors say more people are vulnerable to getting the delta variant of the virus, places where more people are unvaccinated.
Medical workers are trying to change that from the Bronx to central Harlem to Brooklyn.

"That's an area of great concern, we're working on it," said Dr. Edward Telzak of St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

Since 7 On Your Side first investigated the issue last month, there has been a 20% increase in vaccinations, on average, per neighborhood.

But there are still 17 zip codes where 40% or less of the population have been vaccinated. Most of those zip codes are in Brooklyn.

"It's frustrating because the longer we wait to reach herd immunity, the higher the chance of having more and more mutations," said Dr. Raji Ayinla of NYC Health + Hospitals Harlem.

The city has been blitzing the airways, internet and bus terminals with a COVID-19 ad campaign in multiple languages.

The city health department has spent $125 million so far this year on its campaign, including ads encouraging people to get vaccinated.

During a recent budget meeting, the health department said it's the biggest media campaign they've ever done.

"Our budget for media is somewhere north of a $140 million and the vast majority of that funding has been focused on the vaccination campaign and it's been targeted toward dozens of languages, all sorts of media," said Sami Jarrah of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in a recent meeting.

In a statement, a health department spokesperson said, "These figures include citywide placement as well as targeted placement in areas with lower vaccination rates."

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