Despite efforts to fight COVID, minorities not vaccinated at same rate as white people in NYC

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- In the race to distribute COVID vaccinations, there are new concerns about the access to doses among minority groups.

7 On Your Side Investigates was the first to report on diverse communities getting hit the hardest by COVID-19 back in April. It led to changes in how city leaders tackled the virus.

Despite the extra efforts to combat the virus, new information shows minorities aren't getting vaccinated at the same rate as white people.

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We've watched as health care workers, first responders, essential workers and people 65 and over have gotten vaccinated in the Tri-State area. New data shows a majority of them, 48%, have been white.

Fifteen percent of recipients were Asian which represents the approximate population, but only 15% of the recipients were Black even though they make up almost a quarter of the local population.

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In addition, 15% were Latino even though they make up 29% of the population.

"I was dumbfounded," said Jairo Guzman, President of the Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth in New York City.

Guzman believes the problem is two fold - there's a trust issue amongst the community and there's an access issue.

"For our community it's really an issue of do we trust the government, do we trust who's coming out to us and saying come and get vaccinated," Guzman said.
He also believes, there's a lot of misinformation.

"Many of our families got infected going to the hospital and they were discouraged going to the hospital very early on in the pandemic so now coming to them and saying 'come to the hospital and get vaccinated, come to a clinic and get vaccinated' it's still confusing to them as to whether it's safe or not," Guzman said.

The city said it pledged to do better and open up more clinics in diverse neighborhoods and do more outreach.

But the chair of the city's health committee said it should have been doing more from the beginning.

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"It's not just about reluctance it's about access and it's just too difficult for New York's of color to access a vaccine appointment," said councilmember Mark Levine, who represents the 7th district.

Levine believes vaccine sites in minority communities should give first priority to those living in the neighborhood. Also, if census workers went door to door this past summer signing people up to be counted, he believes health workers should do the same when it comes to vaccinating the public.

"There needs to be a way for us to reach them, instead of expecting them to reach us," Guzman said.

While the city released some race information, here's what they didn't release - the ages of the people getting vaccinated and the zip codes where they live.

This is information that has been released prior when it comes to COVID positivity and deaths.

At a press conference Thursday morning, the mayor said, the data will be released soon.

"The next steps will be to provide it by zip code as you indicated and then I want to get it down over time to the actual site level so we can see in real time what's happening site by site," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

When someone gets vaccinated in New York, giving race information is voluntary.

Forty percent of the people who received the vaccine so far have not filled out the race information on their vaccination forms.

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