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4 additional FEMA & state-partnered vaccination sites to open in New York, targeted at increasing equitable vaccination access

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Wed, Feb 17th 2021 04:00 pm

√ Sites located outside of New York City will target underserved communities; part of Cuomo and Biden administrations' efforts to distribute vaccine equitably & efficiently

√ Sites to be established in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany & Yonkers will each vaccinate 1,000 per day

√ Opening first week of March

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced that, at his request, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will establish four additional community-based vaccination sites in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers. These four major vaccination sites outside of New York City will vaccinate approximately 1,000 New Yorkers each day beginning the first week of March, and appointments will be initially reserved for members of the community in which the sites are located.

The establishment of these sites follows the announcement Cuomo made on Wednesday, Feb. 10, when he joined with White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients and White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Chair Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith to announce similar sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens.

A press release noted, “These sites were selected in partnership with FEMA and the CDC, focused on improving vaccine access in socially vulnerable communities. The sites will target communities and populations historically underserved by the traditional health care system that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. By increasing vaccine access in communities where vaccine hesitancy and vaccination rates are lower than other parts of the state, these sites will build on the focus of New York state and the Biden administration to vaccinate as many people as possible fairly and equitably by creating vaccination venues in settings that people trust through partnerships with community leaders and organizations. The governor has also offered to local governments that the state will partner with them to set up additional mass vaccination sites in their counties to help address vaccination administration disparities.”

"From day one, New York has prioritized equitable vaccination access with aggressive efforts targeted at reaching communities that were hit the hardest by COVID," Cuomo said. "We're putting four new vaccination sites in socially vulnerable communities outside of New York City where we've seen higher positivity rates and lower vaccination rates. These sites will operate with extended hours – each administering 1,000 doses of the vaccine every day – and there is no doubt that they will be the most effective way to get the vaccine out as quickly and as fairly as possible in the communities that need it most and bring us one step closer to winning the war against COVID."

Among the sites being established is:

Delavan Grider Community Center

877 E. Delavan Ave., Buffalo

Sites are currently under development. Appointments at FEMA-state-partnered sites will be initially reserved for members of the community in which the sites are located, and community engagement efforts will be used to help and encourage community members sign up for appointments. More scheduling information, opening dates and hours of operation will be made available in the coming days.

The press release said, “While COVID-19 has had a damaging impact on the nation writ large, poor communities and communities of color have been particularly devastated by this virus, with Black and Latino people dying at a higher rate than white people. Since the beginning of the vaccine distribution process, another concerning trend has emerged – hesitancy toward the vaccine, especially in the Black community. With a large number of the essential workers coming from communities of color, these New Yorkers face an increased risk of contracting the virus simply due to the nature of their work. This has made it all the more important to not only continue working to instill confidence in the vaccine, but to also break down access barriers and ensure it is available directly within these communities.”

With the support of FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense and other federal agencies, these sites will mobilize federal clinical and non-clinical staff and contractors who will work with the National Guard, New York, local leaders and community-based organizations to establish and operate these sites. Each location will be tailored to meet the needs of the specific community it is serving.

Acting FEMA Region 2 Administrator David Maurstad said, "These four additional federally funded community vaccination sites across the Empire State are part of federal, state and local governmental efforts to address and prevent COVID-19 health inequities and ensure an equitable response to the pandemic. Vulnerable and under-served populations having access to vaccines is part of our commitment to ensuring every person who wants a vaccine can get one."

New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "The brutal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been magnified for many communities of color across New York who have already been battling significant health disparities and a lack of access to health care for decades. Vaccine distribution must be made a priority for these populations that have been disproportionately affected by the virus. I'm pleased to see New York take a step in the right direction to ensure equity and accessibility throughout this process."

Cuomo’s team said he has made the fair and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine a top priority from the very beginning of this process. In late 2020, the governor announced the launch of New York's Vaccine Equity Task Force chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial and Healthfirst President/CEO Pat Wang. “Since its establishment, the task force has continued work to ensure vulnerable and underserved communities are not left behind by breaking down the barriers to vaccination and ensuring there is equitable distribution of the vaccine across the state.”

Most recently, Cuomo and the Biden administration announced two community-based mass-vaccination sites will be established at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens, each site vaccinating approximately 3,000 New Yorkers each day starting next week. New York also led the development of a mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium in partnership with New York City, the New York Yankees, SOMOS Community Care and the New York National Guard, specifically for residents of the Bronx, which not only continues to maintain the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in New York City, but also contains many neighborhoods considered to be “heath care deserts.”

Additionally, New York has established more than 90 temporary community-based “pop-up” vaccination sites at churches, community centers and public housing complexes directly within communities across the state that have been underserved by traditional health care systems. Since Jan. 15, these sites have enabled approximately 43,000 New Yorkers to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. After the administration of first doses, sites are then reestablished three weeks later to administer second doses.

New York will continue to establish these pop-up sites until they have been placed at all 33 NYCHA Senior Housing Developments, which house more than 7,600 seniors. Pop-up locations will also continue to be established at other public housing complexes statewide, as well as at more than 300 churches and cultural centers which have volunteered to house these sites through Cuomo's Vaccine Equity Task Force.

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