NY Adding Pop-Up Vaccine Sites to Address Racial Disparity; NJ Drops Age Eligibility to 55

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYC Councilmember Mark Levine say the city needs to allow all residents of hard-hit communities to get vaccinated

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What to Know

  • A plateau of new coronavirus cases has kept New York among the highest caseloads in the country, and concerns about upcoming reopenings are growing louder, especially with the spread of a new COVID-19 strain new New York City.
  • With another round of restrictions set to disappear in April, local leaders and health officials are calling on the governor to hold off
  • New Jersey expands COVID-19 vaccine eligibility beginning April 5 to people ages 55 and older, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday

New York has ramped up COVID-19 vaccine rollout not only by expanding eligibility but also by increasing vaccination hubs. Some of these sites have been placed to address socio-economic disparities, and more are on the way, but state data show that the gap hasn't improved much.

The first dose of the vaccine was given in New York City in December 2020. More than three months later, the city has administered more than 3.5 million doses, but the racial/ethnic breakdown of who has gotten vaccinated by share of eligible population still overwhelmingly favors white residents.

“We still have not reached fairness and equity in the number of vaccines,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier this week.

“That discrepancy has to be remedied.”

The governor on Thursday announced that 14 more pop-up vaccination sites are opening next week at houses of worship, community centers and local businesses to address the issue.

Some highly active vaccine clinics are far away from communities of color. Doses aren't being distributed at a level that reflects the greater COVID-19 dangers for people in those communities. Epidemiologist Camara Phyllis-Jones breaks down the issue and says "we can dismantle this system."

Here are the locations opening in the city, Long Island and Hudson Valley:

Kings Plaza Mall
5100 Kings Plaza
Brooklyn, NY
Open: Friday, March 26, 9AM - 5PM

New Testament Temple
3350-56 Seymour Avenue
Bronx, NY
Open: Saturday, March 27, 9AM - 5PM

Challenge Charter Middle School
1526 Central Ave
Far Rockaway, NY
Open: Saturday, March 27, 9AM - 5PM

Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
62 Mott St
New York, NY
Open: Friday, March 26, 9AM - 5PM

Aliento de Vida Church
103-12 Roosevelt Ave
Corona, NY
Open: Friday, March 26, 9AM - 5PM

B.A.P.S Swaminarayan Hindu Temple
2 Deshon Drive
Melville, NY
Open: Friday, March 26, 2PM - 6PM

Alden Terrace School
1835 Central Ave
Valley Stream, NY
Open: Saturday, March 27, 10AM - 2PM **appointments at this site are all filled

Grace Episcopal Church
130 1st Street
Nyack, NY
Open: Saturday, March 27, 9AM - 4PM **appointments at this site are all filled

Hope Community Services/City of New Rochelle
50 Washington Ave
New Rochelle, NY
Open: Saturday, March 27, 9AM - 5PM **appointments at this site are all filled

Compared to when NYC first released its vaccine and demographic data early last month, the percentage of white residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine went from 46% to 38% and the numbers for Black, Latino and Asian residents improved slightly. The percentage of Black New Yorkers who got at least one dose went from 12% to 14%; Latinos and Asians went from 16% to 18%.

Experts have said that several factors could be driving the emerging disparity, including deep distrust of the medical establishment among Black Americans because of a history of discriminatory treatment; inadequate access to the vaccine in Black neighborhoods; and a digital divide that can make it difficult to get crucial information. That's why local pop-up vaccination sites are important, Cuomo says.

"Our pop-up sites located in houses of worship and other trusted community centers play an important role in creating an environment for New Yorkers to feel comfortable taking the vaccine and recommending it to friends and family, while also building on our efforts to prioritize equity in vaccine distribution by establishing these sites directly in historically underserved communities throughout the state that were hit the hardest by COVID," Cuomo said Thursday.

New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers

Click on each provider to find more information on scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC

Not sure how the process works? Check out our handy tri-state vaccine site finder and FAQs here

Meanwhile, new coronavirus cases that have kept New York among the highest caseloads in the country still disproportionately affect Black communities. Concerns from advocates have grown lower in recent days about Cuomo's upcoming reopening plans, but the governor has maintained that the state can safely reopen sports stadiums and entertainment venues next month.

But if the governor won't slow economic recovery steps, advocates like NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYC Councilmember Mark Levine say the city needs to allow all residents of hard-hit communities to get vaccinated.

Stringer, who is running for mayor, and Levine proposed Thursday that the state and city lift all restrictions for people working and living in 33 neighborhoods designated by the City's Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity.

"We should set aside up to 50% of walk-in slots for New Yorkers in these areas and ramp up mobile sites," Stringer suggested.

That decision will be entirely up to the governor. Cuomo has opened up vaccine eligibility to more people in recent days but the state has only allowed residents 50 and older to sign up for shots, as well as those in certain job categories or with certain underlying health conditions.

As of Friday, more than 3.8 million doses of the vaccine has been given out in the state and nearly 1.4 million people are fully vaccinated. In New York, Cuomo announced more than three million people were fully vaccinated as of Friday — about 15.2 percent of the population, which is still a long way to go from herd immunity.

Across the river, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has similar concerns about reopening too much and too soon. With the state ranking first in the country in new virus cases per 100,000 residents, the governor announced this week that he's slowing down the steps to recovery. The Garden State's latest move was joining New York in increasing restaurants' indoor capacity to 50% last Friday.

"My guess is, we won't be opening up further capacity for some time now because of the caseload," Murphy said, adding that he thinks things should improve as the weather gets warmer and more people in the state get vaccinated.

New Jersey will expand its vaccine eligibility once again on March 29 to essential workers in food production/distribution, elder care and support, warehousing and logistics, social services staff, elections personnel, hospitality, medical supplies, postal/shipping services, clergy and the judicial system.

Crediting another boost in vaccine supply, Murphy announced an additional wave of eligibility coming next month. People ages 55 and older, as well as anyone that has intellectual and development disabilities ages 16 and older, can schedule an appointment starting April 5. The rest of the state is on track to reach eligibility by President Joe Biden's May 1 nationwide goal, Murphy added.

The newly eligible also include higher education educators and staffers, along with communication support workers, including engineers and members of the media.

Real estate, building and home service workers will also be permitted to get shots, along with sanitation workers and bank tellers, accountants and other financial industry employees. Laundry service workers, utility workers and librarians round out the “1C” category that Murphy greenlight Friday.

A new FEMA-run community site will open soon in Newark at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Murphy said the 8-week operation will have the capacity to administer 6,000 doses of the vaccine daily with a focus on equitable distribution in still hard-hit communities.

Currently, New Jersey’s vaccine eligibility includes people ages 16-64 with chronic illnesses, as well as smokers, people 64 and older, health care and emergency first responders, and teachers. The full list of those eligible is at

Murphy becomes age eligible for the vaccine in the April 5 wave and plans to sign up for his dose once the date arrives, he said Friday.

Connecticut is one of a few states that are moving ahead with vaccinating all adults. With the state lifting all capacity restrictions for most businesses last week, Gov. Ned Lamont said on Thursday he will open up vaccine eligibility for residents 16 and older on April 1, four days sooner than previously announced.

Lamont said an increasing supply of vaccines into the state, particularly Johnson & Johnson, will allow for around 200,000 doses to be distributed next week. The state is also having conversations with some health care systems about possible prioritization within the April 1 eligibility group for residents with specific medical conditions, according to the governor. Lamont said details would be released on Monday.

More and more states are also announcing reopening measures, despite warnings from health officials who noted the rise in COVID-19 in places like Europe where the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant is rapidly spreading.

While vaccines are expected to work against the new variants, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged all Americans to remain "vigilant" because the U.S. is far from reaching herd immunity.

"We are at a critical point in this pandemic," Walensky said during a White House news briefing. "I'm worried that if we don't take the right actions now we will have another avoidable surge just as we are seeing in Europe right now."

New numbers show that 44.8% of Americans ages 65 and older are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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