Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams Sunday released the following statement after the de Blasio administration answered calls from elected leaders and advocates to release demographic data on who has received the COVID-19 vaccine to date.
The data revealed that of the recipients who provided demographic information, Black and Brown communities have been vaccinated at about half their population share in the city, while white New Yorkers receiving the vaccine represent roughly 1.5x their relative population in the city.
“Our leaders have continually failed vulnerable communities throughout this pandemic – first in minimizing infection, now in maximizing injection. The demographic data on vaccine distribution that the city finally released today after long delays confirms what we feared and expected – that the people and communities of more color, disproportionately harmed by the pandemic, have been disproportionately hindered in equitable access to vaccination.
“Many of us knew this would be the case, and we know there are many contributing factors, from infrastructure inadequacy and technological failures to cultural hesitancy to longstanding healthcare privileges and disparities. We know too that the government – city, state, and federal – each had a role in creating this divide, and has a responsibility to equitably close it. There are no excuses and there can be no passing the blame at this point – supply may be a federal issue, but distribution decisions fall on our state and local executives.
“We had the time to get this right. We have the tools, systems, and community networks in place to reach people in communities of more color with information about and access to the vaccine – we proved this capability in our work for an improved census count last year during a pandemic. In order to vaccinate New Yorkers with speed, equity, and efficiency, the city can and must learn a lesson from those efforts. A progressive New York should be leading the way on equity, not looking for excuses when we fail to achieve it.”